Rescue and Reunite – A Success Story

The other day, we received a call from Sera Conservancy at about 9.30 in the morning that a three-week-old elephant calf had fallen into a very deep singing well. The RESCUE (Reteti Elephant Sanctuary Community United for Elephants) team safely got the calf out of the well. They then settled it into the shade, in the hopes that they would be able to reunite the calf with its mother in the evening.

A few members of our group went amongst the community and started talking to the cattle herders, to the guys in the community to get an understanding of what kind of elephants are in the area, how many elephants in the area and how many breeding herds there are, so we could get a better idea of what the movements of the elephants were like and how probable it was that this little calf’s mother would come back and drink that evening.

You can listen to founder Katie Rowe recount the story of this reunion here:

After speaking to the community, we decided the chances of this little calf’s same herd coming back were extremely high, so we decided to wait. We would wait out the heat of the day and wait for the cattle and the people to move away from the water, which they share with the elephants. We would wait until the evening time, which is when the elephants start to come back to drink.

It was a hot day. Our keepers did their best to keep this little elephant calm and hydrated. They made themselves some tea, just patiently waiting out the day, not jumping the gun and rushing into the sanctuary, because his mum was still alive. We felt that it was worth giving it a go.

That patience was rewarded. Just as night was falling, the herd was seen moving down the river bed towards the singing wells. It was just starting to get dusk so the keepers could make out the elephants in the distance. Not only that, but they started to hear lots of grumbling and rumbling. The little baby elephant they were looking after perked up and started grumbling and rumbling, and then they knew that this was his herd! They knew that, with all the communication that was going on, this was his mum!

The keepers moved over very closely, being careful not to spook the elephants. Then they left the elephant calf out in the open and quickly retreated back to a safe place where they could watch. Sure enough, mum and baby were reunited. There was lots of trumpeting and lots of trunks going out to feel the baby, lots of all the mums and aunties and sisters and cousins all gathered around the baby. Everyone on our team gave a huge sign of relief that this little baby had got back to where it belongs and we wouldn’t have to bring it back to Reteti, which is what we’re all about.

The keepers then settled back to their little campsite and rested in their bedrolls, with a hearts full of relief that they’d done their jobs and they’d got this baby back to its mum.

Reunions like these these fill us with joy. Whenever possible, we want to be able to reunite baby elephants with their mums. We are currently building a team that will be able to get to baby elephants quickly and know exactly how to make reunions happen.

Our Rapid Response Rescue and Reunite team will live and operate out of a car, especially during these dry times when the wells get deeper and more dangerous. They will be moving particularly around the areas that are hot spots for the very deep, deep, deep wells. They will focus on helping rescue and reunite baby elephants with their herds. Right now, we are raising money to support this team. If you would like to help support the Rapid Response Rescue and Reunite Team, you can make a donation here.

You can learn more about singing wells and the dangers they pose to elephants by reading our earlier post, “Why Are Elephants Orphaned?

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