"Thank you very much": Baby elephant uses his trunk to caress a wildlife worker who helps rescue animals injured by poachers and nurse them back to health

“Thank you very much”: Baby elephant uses his trunk to caress a wildlife worker who helps rescue animals injured by poachers and nurse them back to health

This is the tender moment a stricken baby elephant was rescued after being severely injured in a poachers’ trap.

And the footage shows the miraculous recovery of the animal after it was transported almost 200 miles from where it was found to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya.

The video shows just how far a trusty team of volunteers will go to, to help the magnificent beasts recover from some dreadful injuries.

This particular elephant was left with horrific facial and leg injuries after being caught in a trap and speared – but now it is filmed in recovery and even making some new friends.

The young elephants are constantly watched by their keepers who protect them with blankets when cold

The footage shows how rescue volunteers found a baby elephant in severe pain after being trapped by poachers

The elephant was carried up by the team and loaded onto a truck, where it was then transported onto a flight to the wildlife reserve in Kenya

The elephant’s wounds were cleaned and treated with green clay, a natural remedy that speeds up the healing process

It is hoped that all the injured elephants recover from their wounds and grow into healthy, full-sized adults

Orphaned baby elephants are nurtured 24 hours a day by keepers at the Trust, which includes walking with them in the bush and co-sleeping with them at night.

With World Elephant Day on August 12, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust celebrates the occasion with a glimpse into the everyday lives of orphaned baby elephants.

Infant elephants are rescued by the Trust and often arrive at their Nairobi Nursery severely traumatised by the events that separated them from their mother and family and it is up to the Trust to hand rear them.

Executive Director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (UK) Rob Brandford said: ‘Aside from the trauma and often physical injuries from such events the infant inevitably enters a period of deep grieving for its lost loved ones, which can last for months.

‘During this critical period survival hangs in the balance and not all calves can be persuaded to make the effort to try to live.

‘Our Nairobi Nursery offers a secure base and a loving environment to nurture these orphans at a time of greatest need.’

How could they? The 15-month-old elephant had a horrific wound on its head that was also treated with the clay

This is the damage left on the magnificent animal by the trap the poachers had set up to snare it

The animals have a fantastic opportunity to fight their way back to full health at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Elephants are rescued by the Trust and often arrive at their Nairobi Nursery severely traumatised by the events that separated them from their mother and family and it is up to the Trust to hand rear them

Infant elephants are very fragile during the first months of their lives and our keepers must replace their lost family and stay with the orphans 24 hours a day.

Keepers even sleep with the calves on a rotational basis and use a special milk formula developed by the Trust’s Founder, Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE to feed new-born elephants to provide the nutrients they need to survive.

Keepers even sleep with the orphaned calves so they can get a sense of that family life they miss out on

The wound on the elephant’s head is closing up somewhat thanks to the careful treatment by helpers

Playtime! The elephant found by volunteers in a poacher’s trap is now making friends at the Trust

Rob said: ‘To a baby elephant, who is emotionally very fragile, family is everything.

‘The Trust’s keepers look after their adopted infants as they would their own human babies, with gentle patience, exuding love and feeding the baby on demand, which is vital to the survival of the calf.

‘Elephants are tactile and highly social animals, so our human family is always encouraged to be in physical contact with the babies as much as possible.’

The young elephants are constantly watched by their keepers who protect them with blankets when cold, provide them with rainwear when wet and an umbrella when exposed to sun during their first two months.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust cares for orphaned elephants that have been abandoned, or injured as a result of poaching in Kenya

A hardy team of workers provide the elephants with everything they need to make a recovery from any injuries

The aim of caring for the animals at the Trust is that one day they will be strong enough to return to the wild

Brandford said: ‘Much like human children, baby elephants play games and need stimulation. Highly intelligent, with a giant memory, they duplicate our own children in many ways.

‘The keepers accompany orphans on walks in varied surroundings with unlimited access to nature’s toys.

‘Cause for celebration is when a rescued baby elephant plays for the first time because, only then, can one be better sure of a reasonable chance of success as an elephant will only thrive if they are happy.’

When young elephants are psychologically and physically stable for relocation, usually around the age of three, they are transferred to either the Voi or Ithumba Stockades in Tsavo East National Park or the Umani Springs Stockades in the Kibwezi Forest where they will stay until they choose to return to a life in the wild, which can take up to seven years.

The Tsavo ecosystem, Kenya encompasses an area of 24,800 square miles – it is also home to Kenya’s largest population of elephants, which is currently about 11,000 – and eventually becomes home for many of the Trust’s hand-reared elephants.

When young elephants are psychologically and physically stable for relocation, usually around the age of three, they are transferred to either the Voi or Ithumba Stockades in Tsavo East National Park or the Umani Springs Stockades in the Kibwezi Forest

Open wide: The elephants are checked regularly to make sure their recovery is on track at the reserve

It can take up to seven years before an elephant is ready to return to the wild, so they go through a series of moving to bigger and bigger reserves

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