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Baby elephant rescued after anti-poaching flight in Kenya

23/04/2013 08:16:11 world/Africa_2012/sheldrick_elephants Eyes in the sky save baby orphaned elephant

April 2013. Alone in the wild and still dependent on its mother's milk, no orphaned baby elephant would have a chance of survival unless rescued. Luckily for Tundani, a lone male elephant calf, he was spotted by a David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) Pilot on a routine aerial surveillance flight. Having been rescued, he is now being given a second chance at the DSWT's Nairobi Orphanage where he will be hand-raised before being gradually rehabilitated back into the wild.

Seen from the air
Tundani one of the most recent arrivals to the Orphanage and was first seen on the 8th April 2013 by DSWT pilot Nick Trent as he flew over Tsavo East National Park looking for signs of ivory poaching activity. With no elephants in the area, the pilot made the call to the DSWT's nearby Ithumba Reintegration Centre whose Keepers quickly set out to locate and rescue the calf. Once captured, the team travelled to the Ithumba airstrip to meet a separate rescue team from the Nairobi Orphanage who, after checking his health, transported the young elephant via charter plane to the DSWT Nairobi Nursery.

Since arriving at the Nairobi Nursery, Tundani - named after the area in which he was found - has received medication and round the clock care and is growing in strength. Along with 21 other orphaned elephants currently in the care of the DSWT Nursery, he now roams Nairobi National Park's forests daily and, with the help of the Keepers who care for the orphans 24 hours a day, he begins his journey of reintegration back into the wild.

Tundani's rescue is just one of many that the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has undertaken this year. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, founder of the DSWT says "this latest rescue only shows the devastating effect that poaching and human-wildlife conflict has on elephant populations. Without the care of his mother, Tundani would have no hope for survival. At least now, with the help of our Keepers and the love of the other orphaned elephants at the Nursery, he has a second chance at life in the wild.

35,000 elephants killed every year
"This is not the first time we have rescued a young elephant - and sadly we know it won't be the last. With up to 35,000 elephants killed every year by ivory poachers, elephants are dying in droves on a daily basis to feed the infamous ivory trade fuelled by demand from the Far East."

In the face of rampant poaching, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust continues to take action in the field to protect Kenya's threatened elephant and rhino species. Along with the Orphan's Project, the DSWT's Aerial Surveillance initiative maps wildlife populations in Tsavo and provides aerial support to the Kenya Wildlife Service and the DSWT's eight anti-poaching teams which patrol vulnerable habitats threatened by poachers throughout the Tsavo region.

To find out more about the DSWT and its projects in Kenya, please click here.

DSWT maintain anti poaching flights over Tsavo, which provide a fantastic oppoertunity for some aerial photography - See more of the Tsavo from the air. Photo courtesy of Nick Nichols.


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