Date of Birth: Saturday 15 March 2014
Age on Arrival: About 7 weeks
Where: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nursery Nairobi Kenya Africa
Too Cute For Photos, see Mbegu at: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphan’s Project
The rescue of tiny Mbegu was perhaps the most intricate and disheartening of all recent David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) rescues of baby elephants. For an elephant had been responsible for the death of a woman in the community of Kimanjo. And after the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) had come to shoot the elephant dead both human and elephant lives had been left shattered.
It was this human elephant conflict that had driven the community mad and sent them out for blood and revenge on the only elephant left behind. And that turned out to be an abandoned baby elephant that in the aftermath was as innocent of all of the consequences of the day’s events as the woman in the community who had lost her life.
As The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was contacted (in the Naibunga Conservancy at Ol Lentille) the baby elephant, who had now become an orphan after her elephant family had lost the calf in a “panic separation,” was now being attacked and speared (several times, it turned out). Even the children had cornered little Mbegu when she ran into a school building for “refuge” and began throwing stones at the weakened calf.
Then another troubling situation began developing. As the grieving community had made it known to the game warden (from the Naibunga Conservancy, who had been protecting the baby elephant from the “retaliation” efforts of both the adults and children alike) that they would not release the calf a standoff of sorts ensued.
Fortunately with negotiations (an “agreement” was signed) and the “efforts of both the Naibunga Conservancy and the KWS another tragedy, still, was kept from happening. Although DSWT rescuers were allowed in (the rescuers had departed the DSWT in Nairobi from the Wilson Airport at 3 pm and ultimately would not take off with their precious cargo until nightfall, arriving at the DSWT Nursery at 8:45 pm) and the baby elephant was still alive she grew weaker as the rescuers became increasingly more concerned.
When they found her “secured” on the hard surfaced floor of the school’s classroom, little Mbegu was not only “stressed and injured from the attacks” she was also “extremely traumatized”. But this baby elephant knew when she was finally being helped and so she “responded to the tender loving care that she received from the DSWT keepers” when they fed and rehydrated her.
Relief soon set in for the rescuers, as not only were they finally able to whisk the baby elephant away from this hostile situation but they would soon be able to introduce Mbegu to the other elephant orphans at the DSWT nursery.
The very night of her very late arrival at the baby elephant orphanage little Mbegu received two significant gifts. One was the blessing of a new beginning at the DSWT as she settled into a stable next to baby elephant Ashaka, who along with the other nursery orphans “sensed her arrival and began bellowing” out their welcome.
(As little Mbegu embraced this calling out of “familiar elephant sounds” it gave her great comfort. The soothing effects of the green clay applied carefully to her fresh wounds would give her body great comfort as well.)
So how did this tiny orphaned elephant get her name? Well, that was the second gift Mbegu received and it was from one of her eventual keepers, Mishak, who happened to be with his charge, Ashaka, on that very first night.
She was crowned with an “enchanting name” meaning “tiny seed” in Swahili after Mishak noted that despite having “all of her teeth already that she was by far the smallest of them all” (small yet mighty in her spirit to survive).
With her new name and the life she will have going forward, surrounded by the love and care Mbegu deserves, (her spear wounds have slowly healed thanks to the “power of the green clay” preventing the sepsis from setting in) this baby elephant has carried few ill effects from her ordeal (both emotional and physical).
And despite the trauma that this calf has endured, little Mbegu “has settled in extremely well”. She not only loves her new elephant family, both pachyderm and human, she holds a special place in her heart for her keepers as she will “never forget the love and tenderness they have shown her”.
Nowadays, “Mbegu is a perfect little treasure,” and loves to show off and play. She has become a truly happy elephant.
Looking back to the day of her rescue how could anyone have known this “sweet and beautiful baby” would make it this far. But then again, they don’t call her the little miracle elephant for no reason.
Thank you DSWT for rescuing this orphaned baby, and caring about the future of our elephants, once again.
For information on how to Adopt Mbegu see her orphan profile
For YouTube video of Mbegu’s Rescue see dswtkenya
See photo gallery of Mbegu at DSWT:
credit: public domain drawing of baby elephant