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Baby elephant facing starvation rescued as it stands over its dead mother who was killed for her ivory tusks

Roi the 10-month-old elephant stands over her dead mother, who was killed by ivory poachers Credit: Swati Prasad Siddharth

A baby elephant who faced starvation after its mother was killed for her ivory tusks was dramatically rescued as she stood over her body.

Ten month old Roi, a female calf, was spotted standing by the dead animal, which had been killed by a poison spear in the plains of the Masai Mara, Kenya.

Baby Roi standing over her mother's body Credit: Swati Prasad Siddharth

Just 24 hours earlier, the endangered animals had been photographed playing happily together.

Witnesses who saw the dead elephant contacted a wildlife charity, which managed to charter a plane to rescue the calf before it left the body.

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"It’s extremely rare for an orphan to found next to a poached mother," said Amie Alden from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which launched the rescue operation.

Roi and her mother were photographed playing together just hours before her mother was killed Credit: Swati Prasad Siddharth

Roi, who had been rejected for feeding by the other adult females in its distressed herd, faced starving to death.

She is now being looked after at the charity's nursery in Nairobi, which is home to 30 other victims of poaching and human wildlife conflict.

All young elephants are extremely fragile, not least when they are still milk dependent and have experienced being orphaned or seen their mother killed.

Now at our Elephant Orphanage, we have named this tiny baby Roi who understandably was in mourning after we rescued her, but with the specialist help of our keepers, is now beginning to smile and play.

– David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Jump to 1:35 to watch the rescue: