Rob was in Tanzania a few weeks ago and travelled with Julian and Jenny, who are based in Arusha, to the Ngorongoro Highlands to visit a school near the foot of the Ngorongoro Crater. After a meeting with staff and the children, it was agreed that the Trust will support them with repairs to classrooms, blackboards and providing new books and writing materials.
The kids also requested new goalposts and netball nets – you can see in the video that the existing ones are made of logs and wire. We’ll get busy on this for them straight away. Jenny and her daughter Sasha got invited to play in a game of netball with the girls. Jenny claimed her height advantage was negated by the youth of her competitors. At least she joined in. Rob took one look at the size of the football pitch, and the steepness of the slope, and announced his retirement from all forms of the game.
We look forward to working with this lovely school and will be announcing full details over the next few weeks.
Kithaka, the spirited elephant orphan, who the Real Africa Trust adopted back in 2013, has now moved to Tsavo East for the next phase of his rehabilitation back to the wilds of Africa.
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.
After the successful completion of our first class room at Ololchura School last September, we’ve now started fund-raising for a second. After talks with the school Headmaster Tamoo Sankele over what facilities they need most, its been decided that another classroom to allow more children, especially girls, to attend is the highest priority. We shall be fund-raising in 2015 to raise the money for this, the first event of which will be a charity ball on the 19th June at the Norfolk Mead in Coltishall, Norfolk.
The ball is being arranged by some Real Africa clients who visited Kenya with us in November ’14 and visited the school. It was one of the highlights of their safari and now they are keen to help in the construction of the next classroom. Many thanks to them for the time and effort they are putting in. For more details of the ball please contact us. For donations , please visit our Virgin Just Giving page.
It hardly seems possible that it is nearly a year since I first met Kithaka at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust nursery unit in Nairobi National Park. Although showing signs of being a mischievous young bull elephant from the start, he was still very small and vulnerable and coming to terms with the loss of his elephant family.
It has been heart-warming to see him form bonds with his keepers and the other elephants this past year and to witness the extraordinary care and commitment of all the staff at the DSWT.
Kithaka is certainly far bigger and more boisterous today and a bit of a handful by all accounts. He increasingly enjoys his independence, typical of a young bull elephant, and wanders off into the bush to explore. He has now been moved from his stable to the stockade with newcomer, baby Kauro, moving into his place.
The stockade houses a number of ‘big’ elephants as they move on from the dependent infant stage. The keepers’ sleep nearby rather than in with them as in the stable. Then from the age of around two to three years, elephant orphans who are physically and psychologically stable will transfer to the Ithumba or Voi units in Tsavo East National Park to continue the rehabilitation process back to the wild. We are looking forward to hearing about Kithaka’s progress in the coming months.
During 2014 the DSWT has received 23 elephant orphans.
Kithaka in 2014
Kithaka still enjoys a good wrestle in the mud with his fellow orphans. He continues to be the naughty boy of the nursery, stealing milk, pushing small children during visiting time, surprising film crews by hiding in the bushes and then running out trumpeting, and most recently, harassing Maxwell the rhino. Here is an entry from the keepers’ diary:
“The orphans had a very amusing morning as once all the big elephants were let out of their stockades, Kithaka, Barsilinga and Lemoyian decided to pay Maxwell a visit. Maxwell was fast asleep lying along the gate to his stockade so he didn’t notice the three elephants approaching and very secretly feasting on his lucerne. The lucerne was a real treat to the elephants and their mission was to eat as much as they could get before Maxwell woke up. Once they had their fill, Kithaka and Lemoyian began pushing the gate and pulling sleeping Maxwell’s ears with their trunks. At first it seemed that Maxwell quite enjoyed all this attention as he was moving his head around to get the best angle to get a tickle from the two babies. However, it didn’t take long until Max was out of his sleepy mood and was quite annoyed with the three menaces. He head butted the gate making the three elephants run away trumpeting with happiness as they joined the herd in the forest for yet another beautiful day. “
Tamoo Sankale, the Headmaster at Ololchura Primary School, emailed us on Friday to say that the new classroom the Real Africa Trust has been building for at the school has been completed. He sent some images via his phone showing the building, together with some of the children outside.
The school, adjacent to the Masai Mara reserve, previously had only one functional classroom for nearly 100 pupils. This second classroom will allow more classes to take place in a correct learning environment and away from small outbuildings that were used before in times of wet weather. Otherwise, lessons were taken in the shade of a large fig tree.
The Real Africa Trust’s involvement with the school is long term and we are looking to continue our support with further projects such as electricity generation, water reclamation and the further upgrading of facilities. Watch this space.