Elephants are amazing creatures. Though we clearly have our differences, these gentle giants are a lot like humans. Just like us, elephants spend their lives with their herd which is as close-knit as any human family. Elder elephants, typically the matriarchs, teach life skills to younger generations and when a baby is born, the entire herd bands together to help raise the little one. If an elephant is a first-time mother, they help her out a little bit more, showing her the proper ways to care for her newborn.
Unfortunately, time is running out for these majestic creatures. In Indonesia, elephants face severe habitat loss and many are being stolen from the wild and sold into cruel industries such as logging and trekking. Meanwhile, the African elephant population suffers an estimated loss of 35,00o to 50,000 every year due to poaching. Hopefully, recent efforts to put a stop to the ivory trade will slow the rapid decline of one of our planet’s most majestic creatures.
Unfortunately, legislation can only do so much when it comes to stopping illegal poaching. Although there are organizations out there like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which employ anti-poaching units, the habitat of these elephants is vast and sometimes, the poachers get to the elephants first. Because many of the elephants who lose their lives so their tusks can be sold are mothers, that means their babies are left alone to fend for themselves. With nowhere else to go, these babies, like little Karako in the photos below, are fortunate that there are good-hearted humans out there who are willing to dedicate the countless hours needed to help them grow into happy, healthy adults.
Baby Karako was found wandering all alone and injured in Zambia. Thanks to scouts trained in rescue, he was safely transported to Lilayi Elephant Nursery, which is part of the Elephant Orphanage Project. When baby elephants feed, they rest their trunks on their mothers. Without his mother, Karako rested his trunk on one of the caretakers.
Because he had overexerted himself wandering without a mother, Karako’s body temperature dropped and he fell ill. Caretakers gave him a comfortable mattress to sleep on, blankets to keep him warm, and a kind hand to hold his trunk and help him through this tough time.
Surgery helped fix several of this baby’s health issues (the blue patches you see are antiseptic to treat his wounds), but the little guy was still feeling depressed and sick. He was also unable to play in the mud baths with other orphans until his wounds healed. Elephants are social creatures, so we can only imagine how tough this was for him.
But with the persistence of his caretakers, Karako began to feel like he wasn’t all alone in the world.
And with a little creativity, they were able to help this sweet orphan elephant feel like he wasn’t missing out on mud baths with his new ellie friends.
Karako is still recovering, but it won’t be long until he can join his friends in the mud baths. He has been through a lot for such a young elephant, but we know that this little orphan couldn’t be in better hands. Good luck, Karako!
To learn more about the Elephant Orphanage Project or to make a donation so that orphans like Karako can get the care that they need to help them grow up big and strong, visit their official website.
Lead image source: GRI – Elephant Orphanage Project/Facebook