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A New Life for Maktao…

The dry season in Kenya is a challenging time for wildlife. During these waterless months, living conditions are tough and animals are forced to travel longer distances to access food and water, sometimes wandering out of protected areas and into community lands to in search of sustenance. Historically, it’s also one of the worst times for ivory poaching as individuals struggle to make a living from the land and turn to more drastic and illegal methods to make money, targeting elephants that congregate around permanent water holes and pools.

To keep elephant herds safe, our charity partner, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), has been actively patrolling from the ground and in the air and has seen some great success, with poaching down on previous years, demonstrating just how valuable their diligent work is.

This dry season, however, the need to help elephants is more urgent than ever. Across Kenya, including the southern part of Tsavo National Park, rains have failed to materialise and the land is the driest it’s been in years. In these extremely challenging conditions, several elephants have already died of starvation and incidents of human-elephant conflict have been on the rise, as herds seek to raid farmers crops, sometimes with deadly consequences for humans and elephants.

One suspected orphan of this conflict is Maktau, a 3-month-old calf elephant calf rescued by the DSWT in July as the dry season began to take hold. Found all alone by the DSWT KWS Anti-Poaching Teams patrolling Tsavo West National Park, this tiny baby would soon have succumbed to starvation without his mother’s milk and, so desperately dehydrated, he immediately drank water from the DSWT pilots who arrived on the scene to rescue him. Clearly exhausted, and knowing he was in a place of safety, he quickly fell asleep during the helicopter ride as he was carefully transported to the DSWT’s Nursery in Nairobi.

When Maktao arrived at the Nairobi Nursery he was extremely fragile and in need of urgent veterinary intervention. Thankfully, the rapid flight meant he was soon in the best hands possible and, having rescued many orphans in a similar condition, the DSWT immediately set about administering IV fluids and nourishing milk and, within the safe and nurturing environment and the comfort of 24 hour Keeper presence, he began to slowly recover.

With the company of his orphaned ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ and through the dedicated work of the DSWT and everyone who has supported the Tea for Elephants campaign, little Maktao is thriving and has made a full recovery. A mischievous little boy, he has taken to his new human-elephant family at the Nursery with gusto and has become very attached to his Keepers, although sometimes his love to be the centre of attention causes disagreements with the other orphans! He is also particularly keen to “guard” the milk during feeding time, as it offers the opportunity to try and steal extra bottles, and likes to make his feelings heard loud and clear whenever he wants more! We shall continue to update you with his story and, in the meantime, are thrilled that our customers are able to have an impact on this little elephant’s life.


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