Baby elephant orphaned in slaughter finds a foster mom

SOS Elephants

An orphaned elephant nicknamed Toto is cared for in a remote Chad village. He was found after some 30 elephants in a herd were slaughtered by poachers.

A three-week-old elephant orphaned when his mother and two dozen other elephants were slaughtered in Chad last month appears to have been adopted by a foster mom, a nonprofit in the Central African country told NBC News.

Nicknamed Toto, the male was being cared for by village officials when he ran away and later reached a nearby herd, said SOS Elephants founder Stephanie Vergniault. 

“Now he seems to have an adoptive mother,” she said, but noted “we are not sure she is accepting him 100 percent.” SOS Elephants asked local officials to provide volunteers to monitor the situation.

SOS Elephants had initially thought it would have to ship Toto to a protected wildlife refuge in Kenya, but now hopes he’ll become one of the herd.

At least 26 elephants were killed in the slaughter on July 24 and the poachers still haven’t been caught. Asian demand for ivory products has pushed prices beyond that of gold or drugs, fueling the killing of elephants across Africa.

Vergniault suspects a local ivory-smuggling gang that uses “cars with tinted windows and no license plates” is protecting the poachers with weapons and food.

“They are difficult to find because they do not necessarily need to go to the local villages to buy what they need,” she said of the poachers.

Related story: Elephants slaughtered in Chad

“Tomorrow will be simply too late,” Prince William warns as Africa’s magnificent wild animals are mercilessly and illegally poached at a rate not seen for decades.

“Many (locals) know about the trafficking, including some authorities, but they are so afraid to lose their life that they shut their mouth,” she added.

SOS Elephants has urged Chad to provide special wildlife troops and to create a protected area — expensive propositions for a poor country. 

On top of that, locals would have to be relocated outside the protected area, Vergniault said, and they would need to be compensated with things like a school, medical facility, and/or seeds and tools for farming.

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