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Naserian is one of the 15 orphan baby elephants rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), whose names adorn our Elephant London Dry Gin miniature bottles... When DSWT first heard about the orphaned elephant calf, who was seen trailing wild herds, and suffering continuous rejection, it was only about 6 months old. It was seen trying to cross the Uaso Nyiro river along with wild elephants, but was constantly pushed under water by one herd member, which is very un-elephant-like behaviour towards a needy baby!
The circumstances of it becoming an orphan remain unclear. There had been reports of recent poaching around Samburu – with eight elephants killed and another theory held by Save the Elephant staff was that the calf could have been separated from its mother by being swept downstream by floodwaters.
When the rescue plane with DSWT landed in Samburu, the calf had not yet been able to be captured and was still trailing wild herds, of which there were many in the area. The rescue was dramatic and traumatic. There was a lot of confusion with vehicles and blazing headlamps trying to focus on the target, people rushing hither and thither, and excited elephants dashing about in the dark, with much trumpeting and screaming. A huge bull appeared out of the shadows in response to the distressed bellows of the calf as it was being overpowered and loaded into the back of the truck, which just managed to make a get-away in time. DSWT staff thought the calf had been without a mother for about a week, since the cheekbone beneath the eye was beginning to become prominent through loss of condition. Having consulted our Samburu Keepers, it was decided that the calf be called “Naserian”, which is a girl child’s name in Samburu, meaning “the lucky one”. After the arrival to the nursery, she was fed rehydration salts and arnica for stress. After their noon mudbath, the other nursery elephants came to meet her, extending their trunks through the separating partition of the next door stable. She was overjoyed to see them, and they her. Amazingly, by nightfall this totally wild elephant was sucking the fingers of her keepers, taking milk eagerly from a bottle, and even enjoying the company of her human attendants.
Photo copyright and text: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust