On 26th Feb 2012 rangers at Vwaza Wildlife Reserve noticed a baby elephant on his own running around frantically trying to find his mother. The rangers monitored the baby and tried to locate the herd he belonged to without success.
On the 28th Feb the baby was found in the South Rukuru River, and was very weak and could not get out of the river. The rangers then decided to intervene and rescued the baby and asked 2 Italian tourists , Cecilia De Battaglia and Luca Oderra Beer Room if they would assist with transport of this baby elephant into Mzuzu as they did not have the funds or facilities to care for it – the cost and 24 hour monitoring of a baby elephant would strain the resources of any National park without specific funding to a point where it would become unsustainable and jeopardize the overall running of such a park.

The elephant was trussed up and loaded into the land rover and driven to Mzuzu where the tourists took it to the Mzuzu nature sanctuary but upon reaching the sanctuary it was established that once again there were not the facilities or money to take care of the elephant and the tourists took the elephant to Summer Parson’s house where it was put into a garage until arrangements could be made for somebody to take the elephant over (named Moses as he was found in the bullrushes).

Department of National Parks and Wildlife and in particular the rangers at Vwaza national Park should be commended for the actions that they took to try and save this endangered animal in spite of all the financial restraints involved in such an action and it is a credit to this department that they have built up a strong relationship with private individuals who are able to step in and assist in situations such as this.

Various parks and wildlife organizations were contacted and nobody was in a position to take the elephant on due to the restraints detailed above. Jenny was eventually called on the evening of the 28th for advice and Jenny gave them the recipe for a foal milk formula as mares milk is the most similar to elephants in terms of fat content, mineral content and protein content so that they could try to get some milk into the baby who was by that stage very dehydrated as it had not fed or drank for at least 3 days. Jenny then contacted Clover King (from the elephant back safaris in Livingstone as she had got her contact details when they went there for conference in case she ever needed advice on rearing of orphan elephants).

Clover gave her the proper formula which was the same as the foal formula but also included baby cereal and coconut to increase the carbohydrate levels and put her in touch with Rachel who runs the elephant orphanage in Zambia who is a wonderful lady with lots of advice and she sought the advice of Dr Ian Parsons a renowned wildlife vet in Zambia who provides vet services to the elephant orphanage and he has been advising her on an ongoing basis as to the health care of the elephant..

On the 29th Jenny and Laurie were asked if they would take on custody of the elephant on behalf of National Parks and Wildlife although it would remain the property of Malawi government and so Jenny drove to Mzuzu in the afternoon to collect him and drove him back during the night when it was least stressful for him.

Moses is now living at their house, Matimat, the cook, looks after him from 7am until 12 am, Nyson, the groom, looks after him from 12 until 5 and Jenny looks after him from 5pm until 7am as he has to have somebody with him 24 hours a day.

When Moses arrived he drank 6L of formula a day as he was only a week old, he is now two months old and consuming 15L a day and by the time he is nine months old he will be up to 24L a day.
He is not yet on solid food as this only starts at 8 months of age and he is starting to teeth and so likes chewing on anything he can get hold of.
He will not sleep unless he is touching you so….. Elephant and Jenny now share a mattress on the floor of the dining room at night.
Moses has grown about 6cm in height since arriving in Lilongwe, doesn’t sound very much over 46 days but when you consider that it takes about 20 years to reach his full size it is about right
When he arrived he had only a 20% chance of survival but as we have got him though to the end of April it has increased to about 40% and if we get him through the first 3 months it will be above 50% - after a year the chances are so much better as by then he has his own immunity as normally all immunity comes from the mother’s milk for the first year of life.