The baby pachyderm was only a few hours old when tribesmen in the Ndoto Mountains of Kenya found it with their cows. According to The Dodo, the herders realized that the infant—which still had its umbilical cord attached—got lost when a group of elephants got mixed up with the livestock. Instead of following its mother, the tiny elephant started trailing the cows.
One of the tribesmen made a 24-hour trek on foot to alert a local conservation group. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which runs a rehabilitation program for orphaned elephants, then airlifted the baby to its nursery in Nairobi. The rescuers are nursing the elephant, now named Ndotto, back to health.
Ndotto is just one of many baby pachyderms orphaned in Africa—and most experience more heartbreaking separations from their mothers. Because poachers target the ivory of large elephants, their young are left to die (a calf can only survive without milk for a few days). So far the DSWT has raised more than 150 elephants with the goal of releasing them to the wild.
Ndotto seems to be in good hands. “We can’t do exactly what the mother can do, but we can do something close to that,” Edwin Lusichi, a keeper at the DSWT, said in a 2008 interview with 60 Minutes. “We have to teach them not to be naughty and not to push around with the others. To obey one another, just like you have to do with children, your own children, to respect the others.”
Now only if more humans would do the same with the animals.