I first met Kithaka 2 years ago. The staff at the nursery warned me, “He’s very mischievous, ” and described him as a “handful” but I was smitten from the outset.
Kithaka was plucked from the Imenti Forest in November 2011 by the dedicated Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant rescue team after being found wandering alone and bewildered without his herd. With no happy reunion on the cards, due to the dense forest habitat, tiny Kithaka, just a week old, was transported to the nursery unit where he has been lovingly cared for ever since.
Kithaka is now a thriving 4 1/2 years old – he’s grown tusks, an even bigger and bolder attitude and remains firm friends with fellow elephant orphans, Lemoyian and Barsilinga, who have been at the nursery for a similar time wuth him.
At the end of May, the ‘three musketeers’ made a big journey – from the nursery in Nairobi to the Ithumba Unit in Kenya‘s Tsavo East where head keeper Benjamin was waiting for them. The Ithumba unit has three categories – dependant orphans who are still given around the clock care, partially dependent orphans, who still return regularly to the stockades and sometimes require supplementary milk and finally the ex-orphans who roam free in Tsavo East.
The ex-orphans may be entirely independent, but still remain extremely attached to their human family and visit regularly. This allows the team to keep an eye on them, ensuring they are healthy and safe. It also means that the orphans arriving from the nursery unit can enjoy interaction with their wild friends and their young, who have been born wild.
I thought you might like to watch this lovely short film about the re-location of Kithaka, Barsilinga and Lemoyian.
By Sara White