Tiny orphan elephant rescued by helicopter

The tiniest ever baby orphan elephant airlifted by helicopter, to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

In early August, Tropic Air airlifted by helicopter a tiny baby orphan elephant from the isolated peaks of the Ndoto Mountains in northern Kenya – a region completely inaccessible by road or aircraft, to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) in Nairobi.


The emergency call came at dusk on the 6th August! Our aircraft engineer Kevin Powell worked tirelessly through the night, removing the passenger seats and fitting the secure wildlife cage into the helicopter, finishing shortly after 2am. At first light Ben Simpson, piloting our Eurocopter, took off. He found the tiny baby being cared for by Samburu tribesmen in their cattle ‘boma’ – a strong bond already established.


After loading the exhausted and traumatised baby elephant, wrapped in blankets to help keep him warm, and with Jean-Dominique our heli-engineer on board to help, they flew to Nairobi – a 2 hour flight.


This is a heartbreaking tale – the new born baby elephant was separated from his herd, the circumstances of which are unknown. He weighed just 50kgs, his ears still pink, his umbilical cord still fresh. He was found by Samburu herdsmen and taken into their livestock ‘boma’ to be looked after, whilst a couple of Samburu warriors’s walked for a day to find a phone signal and get out a message for help. The entire operation was made possible by Helen Douglas-Dufresne of Milgis Trust and her rangers who provided vital information and networks to enable the co-ordinatation of the rescue.

Later named ‘Ndotto’, the baby elephant is now in the great hands of the DSWT – and although his journey ahead is likely to be a fragile one, they will give him his best chance of survival. The next day the DSWT released this short film, that gives a touching insight into the care he received on arrival.