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On the 7th February 2006, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust orphanage received an 18 month old baby bull from Amboseli, whose mother was found dead having suffered from an illness. Orok was without his mother for at least 3 weeks and was quite obviously suffering the affects of milk deprivation since no calf orphaned under the age of 2 years can survive without milk.
The name “Orok” was given to him by Cynthia Moss of the Elephant Research Unit. It is the Maasai word for “Black”, because his family, the OB Study Group of Amboseli elephants, is often seen in amongst the palm groves of Ol Tukai, where the black trunks of the palms are so distinctive. The birth place of little Orok is traditional Maasai country, nestling on the Kenyan side of the Kenyan/Tanzanian border and dominated by towering Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.
Little Orok had a very traumatic rescue, for he still had strength, and resisted capture by the over exuberant KWS Rangers with all his might, who only managed to subdue him after a long car chase. Hence, on arrival in Nairobi, he simply wanted to kill everything on two legs, although he very quickly recognised that the white bottle that was offered to him throughout that first night smelt very tempting, and having seen Kora (another baby elephant) down his share next door, possibly held what he needed most, and that was milk! By the next morning, as soon as he saw it, he would rush up, grab it roughly, down the contents with gusto, and then retreat back into his corner in defensive mode, prepared to flatten anyone who ventured close. He is so happy now to be out with the other 8 Nursery inmates, having formed a very close bond of friendship with another relative Newcomer, little Sidai. The two, who are still grieving for their lost elephant families, like to spend quiet time together away from the exuberance of the others, and at night, in their adjoining stockades, draw comfort from the proximity of each other. In Sidai, angry little Orok has found a quiet, calming and serene elephant, who is still too weak to show aggression, and having been at death’s door twice, is grateful for her life.
Orok is a brave and strong calf, with a very strong spirit, who will one day make a fine bull bringing the attributes he has already demonstrated to his wild kin.
Photo credit and text: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust