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Fenella's Albino Calf Airlifted to Orphanage
The eight months old Albino calf’s mother was first discovered missing approximately three weeks ago. No one here in Amboseli Elephant Research Project knows exactly what caused her disappearance but we suspect she fell victim after the recent crisis in Amboseli that lead to spearing and ultimately death for some animals. Elephant mothers rarely abandon their calves and go missing so it’s safe to assume that she is definitely dead at only 44 years of age. At the moment it’s fingers crossed when censusing our population hoping no more are missing.
As to the fate of our young lad, the weaning period of two years for Elephant babies is an extremely delicate and important as they are fully dependant upon their mothers for milk and protection. Young calves separated from their mothers have been known to suffer from depression and stress, which may lead to lasting trauma if not death. Even worse, somehow along after Fenella’s disappearance, the calf managed to get separated from the rest of the family - the FA’s. So one can imagine how relieved we were to find it today with the HA family. And if things couldn’t get worse for the calf, an arrogant bull passing by pushed him into a well as we watched. Luckily it wasn’t too deep and he pulled himself out.
Currently the HA family is formed by only three members and to add even more to our bewilderment the calf was accompanied by a juvenile female named Flickr from his family. Elephant family members form special and strong bonds which if broken causes extreme suffering. Flickr is eleven years old and at a good age for an Allomother until she gives birth to her own. I am still in awe of how protective and committed Flickr has been towards the calf throughout the days and even more during the capture today.
Over the days we noticed that the calf’s health was rapidly deteriorating and as at only eight months old, it could not yet support itself on solid food. This impelled a call first to the Kenya Wildlife Service and then to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust as they specialize in exactly this kind of situation. I was filled with admiration to watch the men who take care of such orphans 24 hours a day work proficiently to secure the calf ready for the journey to his new home.
Oh, the calf wasn’t named yet so we gave him the name Faraja. We can do no more here in Amboseli but wish nothing but the best.