Sunset is a bad time to be on your own in Africa, more so if you are a baby elephant.
The young female, not more than a couple of months old, was found by rangers wandering alone late in the afternoon. Not wanting to intervene, some of the ranger unit watched the calf while the rest went in search of her mother.
With darkness closing in, and no sign of the mother, the rangers had no option. The baby, completely trusting of her new human friends, needed no persuasion and simply followed the rangers back to their outpost, where they all spent the night.
At first light the rangers resumed the search for her mother, but again with no luck. Thankfully, in these situations we are able to call on the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The rescue plane was slightly delayed due to a temporary closure of Nairobi airspace, but the baby waited calmly with the rangers at the airstrip, even managing a sleep before being flown out.
With the ongoing dry conditions in Amboseli, elephant families are fragmenting more than normal in their search for food. It is possible that the baby lost her mother in this way, or perhaps that the mother died as a result of the drought conditions. We will likely never know.
What we do know is that there will be a happy ending for this young elephant, who has now been moved to the DSWT orphanage in Nairobi, where she will grow up with a new herd in preparation for her re-release into the wild.