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Rescue of Lemoyian
The ATE team got word that there was another calf stuck in the same well where they rescued one the day before. The well is way outside the Park on the border with Tanzania. Luckily we were at Tortilis Lodge when we got the message and that is much closer than our camp.
A Maasai man had been trying to get Soila since 8:00 in the morning, but phone service was poor. He was a true hero because there were boys who wanted to spear the calf but he stayed at the well until we got there which was hours later since we didn't get the message until after 12:00. We had only one vehicle but Tortilis let one of their guides, Saibulu ole Kalama, come with a Tortilis vehicle plus several extra men to help. (Saibulu had worked for ATE for seven years before joining Tortilis and is a good friend of ours.)
The men quickly got the calf out with a rope. We could see he was a male about three months old. He attached himself to Saibulu. He was young enough to be unafraid of people, but he was clearly very stressed and hungry. There were no other elephants anywhere around and so we could not return him to his family and to leave him there would have been a death sentence. We phoned the Senior Warden and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to start the process of getting their team down to Amboseli to take the calf to their orphanage in Nairobi.
Somehow we had to get him to the airstrip and we had to do it in our Land Rover. We made as much room as possible by folding up the seats. Then we tied him down and blindfolded him which tends to calm calves. Getting him in the back was no small feat because he weighs about at least 300 lbs. Before we left we asked the kind man who had stayed with him what the well was called so we could give the calf a name. It was Lemoyian.
Lemoyian screamed and struggled but eventually calmed down and at one point in the journey into the Park and to the airstrip actually went to sleep.
The plane came 45 minutes and it was with much relief we welcomed the the experts from DSWT. As always they knew exactly what to do. They got Lemoyian out of the Land Rover, untied him and immediately gave him a bottle of milk. He drank that down in seconds and started another one and then a third. They also put a blanket on him, gave him a shot of antibiotics and put ointment in his eyes. Then it was time to get him onto the plane. Once again he was tied down and blindfolded. He was then put in a sling and lifted onto the plane. it was heartbreaking saying goodbye to him. We hate losing even one elephant from the Amboseli population.
We thank the Maasai who alerted us and protected the calf, Tortilis Lodge for their help and support, Donna Harpster for lunch and encouragement, and most of all the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for all that they do for elephants including Amboseli's orphans.