Rescued Elephant Calves Begin Their Journey Back to the Wild
Three rescued elephant calves have been successfully translocated from the rehabilitation centre where they were raised, to a holding facility in Sera Community Conservancy, Samburu County, in the first milestone of their journey back to the wild.
The community driven nature of this re-wilding is a first for Kenya: As not only are the elephants being released into a community conservancy, but they were raised in Namunyak Community Conservancy.
The successful move was the result of a collaborative effort between the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), NRT, scientists and veterinarians, Sera and Reteti management and community representatives, and was supported by San Diego Zoo Global and others.
Not willing to take any risks with the elephants, visits to both Reteti and the release site in Sera were made by members of the joint team to ensure the correct requirements were in place for the translocation.
The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is located within Ngilai West group ranch of Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy (NWC) in Samburu County. Its objectives are to rescue orphaned or abandoned elephants calves and make every effort to reunite these calves with their families immediately. Where this is not possible, or the calf need lifesaving care, the Reteti team will take it back to the specially designed Centre and provide round-the-clock care, with the ultimate aim of release the calf back into the wild when it is strong enough.
The three young bulls chosen for release were rescued from Laikipia and Samburu at very young ages. Warges, aged four, was rescued from Wamba, Sosian, who is almost four years old, was rescued from his namesake in Laikipia, and Lingwesi, aged three-and-a-half, was s rescued from Il Ngwesi Community Conservancy.
None of the young bulls are dependent on milk, and have been spending time in the bush at Reteti to learn about good browse. Taking a ‘soft release’ approach, the care team will continue to monitor the bulls closely as they adapt to their new home in Sera. The bulls are being held in a temporary pen to ensure they are familiar with the new landscape, and have been fitted with GPS/GSM satellite tracking collars thanks to Save the Elephants.
Sera was chosen as it has a fenced black rhino sanctuary, free from predators such as lions which could still pose a threat to the young elephants. It also has excellent security, with an enhanced law enforcement team comprising of KWS and community scouts, as well as an existing elephant population that the bulls may integrate with.