In today’s ‘maybe the world isn’t such a terrible place after all’ news, a group of orphaned elephants recently rushed to comfort a little calf who had just lost his mum.
The baby was found wandering by himself near a river in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park, with no sign of his mum. It is thought he was alone for at least three days.
Luckily, one-year-old Mukkoka was rescued just in time and was taken to an orphanage where he has since settled in and made friends.
Rescuers from David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) found the calf during a routine air patrol, whereby rangers search for endangered animals from a plane.
According to their Facebook page, they spotted Mukkoka’s tiny, lone footprints along the river and decided to investigate.
Luckily, they found the elephant just in time and took him back to Nairobi Nursery, where the other orphaned elephants warmly welcomed Mukkoka into their family.
You can watch the moment he meets the herd below:
New arrival Mukkoka is welcomed into the foldAfter spending at least three days without his mother, this one-year-old orphaned elephant is alone no more.Mukkoka owes his rescue – and almost certainly his life – to a routine DSWT air patrol, his tiny footprints identified among hundreds of tracks by one of our eagle-eyed rangers who spotted them from the sky, skilfully identifying the tracks as belonging to a lone baby elephant.Once found and rescued, he was brought to our Nairobi Nursery, where the orphans warmly welcomed Mukkoka into their family and he's now receiving the love, care, and importantly specialist milk he needs to not only survive, but thrive. Being so young, Mukkoka has a long journey ahead of him and you can help him. As the newest baby to join our Foster Program, please consider welcoming him into your hearts – and stay up to-date with his progress – by adopting him today: www.thedswt.org/mukkoka
Posted by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on Saturday, 3 November 2018
The little calf didn’t meet the other elephants straightaway; rescuers made sure that he regained some of his strength first by having some medicine and plenty of fluids.
Rob Brandford, executive director of DSWT, told The Dodo about the moment he was introduced to the herd:
They immediately enveloped him and led him out into the forest to meet the rest of the nursery herd. The greeting he was met with was a warm one, with the other babies reaching out their trunks to comfort and welcome Mukkoka as a new family member.
I’m not crying, you are.
According to their website, DSWT is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation programme in the world, meaning it’s the perfect place for Mukkoka to be.
Particularly because his fellow elephants welcomed him with such open arms (so to speak) and have enabled him to become part of their herd.
Brandford went on to say:
Though it is something we have seen time and again, the empathy shown by these elephants never ceases to amaze. Remembering that they too have experienced the loss of their own family, their level of compassion is genuinely heartwarming to watch as they reach out to newly orphaned calves, offering comfort and friendship.
NEW RESCUE: Meet Mukkoka, our little miracleThis 12 month old calf owes his rescue – and almost certainly his life – to one of our routine aerial patrols. After his tiny footprints were spotted, among hundreds of tracks, by the eagle-eyed Tiva De-Snaring Team leader who identified them as belonging to a lone baby elephant!After an extensive search up and down the Tiva River produced no sightings of the calf from the air, the DSWT/KWS Mobile De-Snaring Team moved in on the ground. They found this desperate little bull in the riverbed two days later, still all alone and extremely vulnerable, but miraculously alive.Once rescued he spent the night at our Ithumba Reintegration Unit, before being flown to our Nairobi Nursery the next morning, so that he could receive the round-the-clock intensive care, regular milk feeds and company he desperately needs.The Nursery orphans have enthusiastically welcomed Mukkoka into their family, and this #FosterFriday you can help us provide for his future by adopting this little bull and welcoming Mukkoka into your family at thedswt.org/mukkoka
Posted by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on Friday, 2 November 2018
Unfortunately, it is not known what happened to the calf’s mum as there was no trace of her when Mukkoka was rescued.
The one-year-old will likely spend the next 10 years being cared for by the wildlife trust until he’s reintegrated into a protected wild habitat.
For the time being, Mukkoka will stay with the team at DSWT until he learns the ropes and becomes more confident.
Brandford explained the importance of interaction in the calf’s upbringing:
Touch [is] an important part of welcoming a new family member and making them feel safe. This loving interaction helps enormously as the orphans overcome the sense of loss.
Hopefully Mukkoka will continue to integrate with his fellow elephants, growing up to be a healthy and happy adult.
To help Mukkoka and the other orphaned elephants, you can make a donation to David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust here.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).