By Charlotte Orie
A baby elephant has had a lucky escape after being left orphaned in the wild.
Vulnerable and alone it was a race against time for keepers to protect and relocate the baby elephant.
The heart wrenching images showcase the baby elephant – now known as Naleku – being rescued and now adapting to life at Nairobi Nursery, Kenya, alongside an orphaned herd.
Rob Brandford, Executive Director of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, said: “At the start of the year our orphan herd received a new member – a miniature six-month-old orphaned baby elephant whose mother passed away after a rapid illness.
“Alone, vulnerable to predators and in desperate need of her mother’s milk, time was of the essence to bring her baby to safety before predators got to her first.
“With permission from the Kenya Wildlife Service, the decision was made to rescue the young baby, who at approximately six months old could simply not survive without her mother’s milk or protection from predators.
“A plane flew directly into the Mara North Conservancy airstrip which was about thirty minutes from the calf and after transportation to the scene, the calf was safely restrained and the team set about preparing her for the journey in the back of a land cruiser to the airfield, and the onward flight to Nairobi.
“The baby was given a tranquilliser to manage stress levels and no time was wasted because it was literally the last light of the day.”
Despite being wary of the keepers at first Naleku is settling in well.
Rob added: “Thankfully it didn’t take long for her to latch onto a bottle of milk as once she knew where the milk was coming from she was happy to feed.
“Although she remained very weary of the keepers, her desire for milk outweighed her fear as she developed a cunning stretch for her milk.
“She also feasted on the freshly cut greenery hanging in her stable, but despite feeding well the horrors of her ordeal plagued her and it was a very restless night for all.
“She was desperate for elephant company, so we introduced her to the rest of the orphan herd which she found immensely comforting, crowded by lots of adoring mini-mums.
“We knew the other orphans who have all gone through similar experiences would work their magic in calming and comforting this little baby – and so it was.
“She has since settled amazingly and is certainly not short of adoring tentative mini-mums who crowded around her taking care of her every whim.”