During the peak of the dry season in 2021, we found ourselves frequently called upon to rescue orphaned animals. It was heartbreaking to see so many helpless babies left to fend for themselves without the love, care, and nourishment they needed. One such animal was Oldepe, who we discovered in the swamps of Amboseli National Park on November 10th.
In early November, Cynthia Moss from the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE) received reports of a calf abandoned at the edge of the Ol Tukai Orok palm woodlands. Upon investigation, she came across a 2.5-year-old bull wandering aimlessly in a swamp, completely alone. Despite waiting to see if he would reunite with his family, it became clear that he had been abandoned for good.
The mission to rescue Oldepe began immediately. We ensured that the young bull received all the care and attention he needed to recuperate from his ordeal. It was a tough journey, but seeing him thrive under our care made it all worthwhile. We were overjoyed to witness Oldepe return to full health and eventually introduce him to his new elephant family.
We remain committed to protecting these majestic creatures and will continue our efforts to rescue and rehabilitate those in need. Oldepe’s rescue adventure is just one example of the incredible work we do to ensure the safety and well-being of elephants in Kenya.
The environment in Amboseli is truly one-of-a-kind because the elephant families living there have been carefully researched and given names by ATE. One of the male calves born in 2019 in this ecosystem is Oldepe, along with Barnoti, who is also an Amboseli orphan. ATE believes that Oldepe is the offspring of Orna from the “OB family,” although they haven’t been able to confirm this recently. Hence, they gave him a name starting with the letter “O” as a symbol of his connection to his origins. Oldepe is highly favored by elephants and can be found in the southern part of Amboseli National Park.
The SWT/KWS Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit received a call to rescue an orphaned calf. They confirmed the calf’s situation and stayed with him until a team from Nairobi could arrive. The swamps of Amboseli were complicated to navigate, so losing the calf was a real concern. Despite the calf’s large size, the rescue went smoothly as he was weak and didn’t resist much. They transported him to a Nursery stockade where he spent weeks recovering before joining the herd in the forest. This was not the first time they worried about Oldepe disappearing.
We soon discovered that we had a tricky little calf on our hands! After about a week of being with the other elephants, Oldepe developed a mischievous habit of playing hide-and-seek with us Keepers as the day came to an end. He would suddenly disappear into the bush, and each time we caught a glimpse of him, he would dart away and find another hiding spot. It became clear that this was all part of the fun for Oldepe, so we decided to try a different approach. Instead of actively seeking him out, we waited patiently at the stockades. As expected, Oldepe eventually emerged from the forest and headed straight back to his bedroom.
Despite the humor in Oldepe’s new game, his actions caused a great deal of tension for everyone involved. The Keepers were concerned about his whereabouts, while the other orphans grew restless and agitated while waiting for him to return. Thankfully, it appears that Oldepe has grown tired of playing hide-and-seek and has since stayed close to his herd.