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It takes a village to raise a calf

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R.E.S.C.U.E | Reteti Elephant Sanctuary - Community United for Elephants

Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is the first community owned and run elephant orphanage in Africa. It is situated in the remote Samburu Mathew ranges in northern Kenya, in Ngilai Unit of Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy.

Reteti aims to rescue, reunite, rehabilitate and rewild orphaned and abandoned elephant calves whilst creating much needed benefits to the local people that live alongside them.

Young elephants can become lost or abandoned for a number of reasons. Very sadly, some lose their mothers to illegal poaching or as a result of resource-based conflict. Others get trapped in water wells when they try to drink and are abandoned when their herds’ attempts to rescue them are unsuccessful. Some may lose their families to natural causes, drought or disease.

Reteti was established in 2016 to help these young orphaned elephants - a representation of the local Samburu communities standing up united for wildlife, in recognition of their cultural and economic value.

Our primary objective is to see elephants calves growing up in the wild under the care of their elephant families, so we will always to try and reunite a calf with their herd if circumstances allow, and only bring them to the Reteti if they need urgent medical attention or their families cannot be found.

Many of the babies we have to bring back to the Sanctuary are traumatised from their experience, and depending on how long they have been alone, may be suffering from malnutrition, dehydration or injuries caused by predators or humans.

Luckily, we have 37 passionate keepers who are all from the local community and are formally trained in the care, rehabilitation and release of elephant calves. Together with the other orphans in the stables, they provide round-the-clock care and love to new arrivals.

The young babies spend their days foraging the bush with their keepers, swimming in the mud pools (did you know they use mud as bug spray and sun screen?) and of course enjoying regular milk feeds.

The Reteti babies need milk every three hours, day and night, which keeps the human team on their toes! It also comes at a cost – each elephant gets through $1,008 of special milk formula each month.

Reteti relies on donations to keep doing the work that we do.


$10 - one bottle of milk
$35 - 2 bed time blanket for an elephant
$60 - a bed roll for a keeper to sleep out whilst in a rescue
$125 - looks after an elephant for a day
$275 - buys milk for 3 days
$525 - a week of veterinarian and medical bills
$1225 - 2 weeks of care for 1 elephant
$10,000 - rescue costs for 1 month


Any support you can give will help toward milk, veterinary care and rescue costs, as well as operational costs of the stables and the salaries of our incredible elephant keepers, without whom none of these babies would have a second chance.

From all of us at Reteti - ashe oleng, thank you, for your support!