In February 2005 the orphanage became an urgent call about a baby elephant in need nearby Voi in Tsavo East. On the scene the keepers and rangers stood eye in eye with a very distressed mama and her very young baby. The baby was emaciated and dehydrated and lay on the ground. He was to exhausted to stand up despite all efforts of the desperated mama, who tried everything to help her precious baby.
All signs pointed in the direction that this young mother didn’t have enough milk herself due to the long dry period and harsh conditions to feed her baby. The keepers and the rangers didn’t want to separate a mother from her baby because that is not natural. The baby was in very critical condition. To be able to give this baby a chance on a future it was the only solution. The keepers didn’t hesitate and picked up the baby in second and brought him to the truck. The mother was confused left behind and she run back to her family. In the orphanage in Nairobi the baby was researched by the vet. The vet draw a conclusion that his baby not only was very dehydrated and emaciated, but also had a serious problem with both his eyes. At one eye he was completely blind the other eye was not much better. The keepers felt confirmed that they had made the right decision by taking the baby from his mama to help him. In the orphanage he had best possible chance to survive and to recovered from most of his health problems. The baby himself was willing enough to live and he fought for his live. Grateful he accepted the bottles of milk and drunk. ‘So now we have also a blind little baby to take care for.’Daphne Sheldrick concluded with sadness in her voice. She feared for this baby’s chance to survive the future.
Although Daphne has experience in raising orphans for over 50 years almost half of all baby elephants younger than age 2 die short after their arrival in the orphanage, due to trauma, wounds, emaciation and more.
Most important is beside physical care the mental care of all orphans. Baby elephants need a reason to be willing to live again. Only solution to reach that goal is the contact with the other orphans who have the same experience, same kind of trauma. The orphans help to heal each other. Together they learn to love again, to live again to trust again, to have faith again. Together they have a future again. Together they build a new family again, together they share and create new memories and become happy again.
The new arrival was willing to live didn’t give up at all. The keepers named him Ndololo and he was about 3 weeks old.
After a few days Ndololo met the other orphans. Ndololo’s keeper had developed a way to make blind Ndololo feel comfortable. With every step he bounced with a stick on the ground, so Ndololo could hear where he had to go to and where he his beloved keeper was. Ndololo immediately followed the sound of love without hesitation. This was the first sparkle of a new future for Ndololo. Every day the little blind baby boy became stronger and more happy. The biggest danger seemed to be survived. At night 2 keepers slept with the baby because he needed milk every 2 hours. Amongst the other elephants Ndololo felt comfortable from the minute he met them. Despite his blindness he followed the sounds from all he loved. Lualeni took immediately care for him. The vet was called again to check his blindness and he discovered that 1 of his eyes wasn’t that bad anymore. Ndololo could see at least something.
There were no doubts that this young happy baby boy would have a promissing, happy future as there seemed to be no more treats for him.
But nothing was what it seemed to be. Completely unexpected without any signal of healthproblems, Ndololo died at night peacefully in his sleep.
Nobody knows why things like this happen, there was no reason, it just happened out of nowhere. Despite all knowledge all experience sometimes unexpected situations like this happen too.
In his short life little Ndololo had stolen the hearts from all who loved him. He will never be forgotten.
A lot of time to mourn his passing there wasn’t because the next emergency call came in.
Orphan spotted in Voi!