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The Interspecies Journey of Suraj and Kiran

From the Field

It all happened a few months ago when Suraj, a wild buffalo calf, was discovered by our partners in Sri Lanka, the Elephant Transit Home, mobile veterinary team. Upon arrival, Suraj immediately bonded with Kiran, an orphaned baby elephant.

Humanity is defined as the quality of being human, but our partners at the Elephant Transit Home in Sri Lanka prove that being humane is a universal characteristic. Beyond elephants, as the name suggests, ETH, Dept of Wildlife, is a sanctuary for all animals in need of medical care. 

A few months ago, Suraj (meaning Sun) was the first wild buffalo patient to arrive at our partner's facility. He was discovered lying alone, in an absolute weakened state, at the border of Udawalwawa National Park, while the mobile veterinary team was off to hunt down a sick wild elephant. Unable to turn away, they decided to go off-mission and transport the baby buffalo back to ETH’s care, immediately. At the time of admission, Suraj was merely a week old and already suffering from profuse diarrhea and dehydration. The veterinarians could not predict the survival of this little calf, but dedicated love, care, and veterinary treatment without question. Slowly, Suraj began to heal.

As Suraj was the first of his kind, providing the social needs of a family was a big challenge. Suraj needed security. Fortunately, an orphaned elephant calf arrived from Ampara, comparable to the size of Suraj, and the two bonded immediately. With time, the connection between Suraj and the baby elephant grew stronger, soon lending to the name Kiran (meaning sunshine). They were no longer alone.

Although socially integrated, veterinarians still had issues improving Suraj’s gastric tolerance towards milk formula. His gut rejected every commercial option available, and he was too young to be completely weaned. It left the team with no other choice than to introduce him to an adaption program. After a quick local survey, a buffalo dam reared on a semi-captive system was found and Suraj was gradually introduced to her. The new mama accepted Suraj with affection and soon later Suraj bid farewell to both ETH and Kiran.

Suraj has gone to brighten up a different world, and Kiran shines on with a rehabilitating herd, forming new bonds. While these animals went their, inevitable, separate ways, their journey remains in our hearts. Two orphaned animals, who lost everything, formed a connection so strong that they helped each other survive. Their compassion for one another is a simple reminder, to all of us, that no matter how bleak life can seem there is always a shoulder to lean on.