This tiny calf was first observed by a film crew on the plains of the Maasai Mara and after hours of observation it became clear to them that something was definitely not as it should be, as the calf was very weak, and appeared a stranger to the herd.
While the herd he was trailing were certainly curious of him, with one female in particular paying special attention, there were no lactating females present in the herd, and soon they left him behind while they moved on with their browsing. It was at this point the film crew first alerted the authorities and Warren Samuels called Angela and sent through photographs of the baby suspecting he was an orphan and might require rescuing. The Mara at the time was desperately dry, and it was clear the baby was emaciated and totally dehydrated, so with the wild herd forced to move on to sustain themselves in this dry and challenging time, the calf eventually lay down under the shade of a tree, vulnerable and alone, with his life force ebbing away rapidly. The Maasai Mara warden responded and drove to the site to be absolutely sure the baby was an orphan and in need of a rescue, but on arrival the calf was by now unresponsive, with only a faint heart beat evident of any life. The rescue was mobilized and the DSWT team flown in to the closest strip and the calf was delivered to the team in the back of the Mara Warden's landcruiser. It was evident that we were going to have a battle on our hands to retrieve this baby, whose plight remains a mystery to this day, because while he was first sighted trailing a herd of elephants in the Mara, his whole body, eyes, and mouth were caked in dried mud. It is possible he was stuck in the swamp, and managed to extract himself or was aided perhaps by the herd he was first discovered trailing - but we think before that happened he had spent a long while without his mother to be in such a critical state.
He was placed on lifesaving drips and flown to Nairobi. While unloading his limp body into a stable of freshly cut hay I don?t think there were many amidst our team who secretly believed he could be saved as he appeared too far gone at the time, however we have known many miracles over the years, and that is one thing the DSWT teams are very aware of - never give up hope.
Thanks to the intravenous hydration he was receiving he began to stir, and after a number of hours was able to be aided to his feet and fed diluted milk. This he slowly drank but soon collapsed once again. This pattern continued for days, with his trunk lying limp and copious quantities of fluids dripping from both trunk and mouth. But as the days passed time on his feet increased, and the strength in his lifeless trunk began to return, and he could begin to lift it himself, and move it, and in time even dust himself.
We estimate he was just a few weeks old on arrival as he had one little tooth popping through his gums, the teething process always a precarious time, and with zero reserves to see him through this difficult time it only added to our challenge.
However with the constant presence of a loving Keeper, and the patient nurturing daily routine, of dust baths, hydration and milk feeds he grew stronger. We had our wobbles with boats of upset stomach which would push us backwards, but the general trend was one of improved recovery. We named his little bull Musiara after the Maasai Mara Musiara swamps close to where he was discovered, and we feel immensely proud of have healed this poor unfortunate boy, retrieving him from the jaws of death. He is a lovely character-ful little chap, with a strong will to live, which in such precarious circumstances is very often be the difference between life and death.
Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick D.B.E
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