Whether from poachers or drought, elephant orphans are an unfortunate reality here in the wild plains of East Africa.

At just 10 months old, Maisha – an elephant calf, was found alone under the baking, blistering sun in September 2017. She was a casualty of a drought in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. I’ve never met her personally, but I’ve heard her story and it’s one that inspires awe and wonder.

When wildlife service rangers found her, they immediately called for help from DSWT (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) and veterinary experts who rushed there and began running an IV drip to replenish her fluids.

She was still and lifeless for over 12 hours. No one was certain how this rescue would end.

Her body was ravaged.

What had become of her family was a mystery.

She was alone, and there was no hope of survival without outside help.

Medicine and a long, concerted effort to hydrate her would take determination from everyone involved.

But that’s what these dedicated people are experienced at. Without them, animals like Maisha would not have a second chance in life.

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The keepers at DSWT had a strong desire to keep Maisha alive, and no one was going to give up on her.

Sometime after midnight, the day Maisha was found, she managed to find her feet and stand, with some assistance. She also regained just enough strength to suckle and was able to be nourished on a small bottle for the first time.

Although Maisha’s story is heartbreaking, it’s not unique. There are many elephants who are orphaned for a variety of reasons, including being poached for their tusks.

Sometime after midnight, the day Maisha was found, she managed to find her feet and stand, with some assistance. She also regained just enough strength to suckle and was able to be nourished on a small bottle for the first time.

Although Maisha’s story is heartbreaking, it’s not unique. There are many elephants who are orphaned for a variety of reasons, including being poached for their tusks.

Animals like Maisha have an insatiable desire to survive and when given the chance, they often flourish, and even pay it forward.

Elephants who have been rescued strive to look after other younger orphans that are brought in, taking on the instinctive role of adoptive parents without being directed.

Out under the glare of the African sun, few animals will survive long without water or food. Elephants are no different, and Maisha was fortunate enough to be spotted when she was.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gurmukh Singh

I’ve always loved being in the bush because it’s where I feel most connected to all the wonders in the world. But I only learned to really experience nature when a close friend of mine would take me to the wild and teach me to sit patiently and just observe birds and animals for hours and hours. And once they got used to us, the most amazing display of nature would play out right in front of us.

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