The following is information on the Elephant Orphan named: MPENZI  (foster now)

Name Gender Date Born Location Found Age on Arrival Comments Reason for being Orphaned
 MPENZI  Female  Friday, October 16, 1992 Mazinga Hill, Voi  8 months old  She was found abandoned and very weak, obviously having been without her mother for some time  Poaching 

Latest Updates on MPENZI:

View to Location map for MPENZI (opens a new window)

Most Recent Keeper's Diary Entry: (view all the latest entries for MPENZI)

4/19/2012 - The orphans left the stockades early this morning, heading out to the fields as the sun was rising. Mpenzi visited the stockade at 5:30 pm after an absence of several months. The keepers were excited to see that she had a young female calf with her. Her first born has really grown and acts as a nannie to her younger sister.

The Two Latest Photos of MPENZI: (view gallery of pictures for MPENZI)

 Mpenzi visits the other orphans at the stockades Emily, Imenti, Lissa, Aitong and Mpenzi
Mpenzi visits the other orphans at the stockades
photo taken on 5/10/2005
Emily, Imenti, Lissa, Aitong and Mpenzi
photo taken on 7/30/1994


This calf was found alone near the Tsavo East National Park Headquarters at Voi, in May 1993, when about 8 months old. The name “Mpenzi” means “Darling” in Kiswahili. She was very dehydrated and weak, obviously having been without mother’s milk for many weeks. The older orphans were taken to her, and they immediately surrounded her affectionately, and walked her back to the Night Stockades as part of their group. She took to the bottle instantly, having taken her cue from the others, and was instantly fussed over and mothered by Malaika, who ‘adopted” her.

Mpenzi the day she was rescued  Mpenzi and Malaika

She thrived with our group until almost 2 years old when the Matriarch “Eleanor” coaxed her away from Malaika. By then, Eleanor and her group comprised of the calves that had been given directly into her care, namely Mary, Lissa and Chuma were spending extended periods of time away from the orphans, when Malaika took over the role of Matriarch in their absence. Mpenzi had also spent two weeks away with a wild herd, amongst whom could have been erstwhile family members, but eventually she decided that her adopted orphaned family were more ”family” than the wild herd with whom she had travelled - not surprising in view of the fact that she spent only 8 months with her own family and had been with the orphans for 16. Thereafter, upon her return, Eleanor, and the other females in her group, namely Mary and Lissa, spent a great deal of time “working” on Mpenzi to persuade her to bond with them, rather than with Malaika. They even forewent spending time with the wild elephants during the rainy green festive wet season in order to woo Mpenzi from Malaika. Having succeeded, Malaika never forgave Eleanor, harbouring an ongoing resentment of Eleanor.

Mpenzi is welcomed into the fold  Lissa and Mpenzi

Eleanor and Mpenzi  Eleanor and Mpenzi

Female elephants normally remain as a united family for life, but the orphans, who have lost their natural family, are always desperate to try and create a replacement unit of their own. There is therefore quite a lot of competition amongst orphaned females who tend to hijack calves away from others, something that promotes animosity and strife which would normally be unknown in a unit where all members are closely related, and the age structure defines rank and dominance.

Mpenzi holing her milk bottle  Emily, Imenti, Lissa, Aitong and Mpenzi

In June l996 Eleanor left her adopted family in the care of her wild friend, the cow named “Catherine” and since then, has not returned to the Elephant Stockades, or be seen by our Keepers, but has been reported seen by the Head of Security and by Daphne herself near Mudanda Rock in amongst a wild herd, and more recently by a Tour Driver who claims to know her well, near Lugards Falls. It would appear that Eleanor left her human friends to give birth to her firstborn calf well away from humans, fearing that we might take the baby from her, for when she was last seen, she was accompanied by a calf. By 2005 she would probably have had a second baby of her own, even though she is now in her mid-forties. It would seem, however, that elephants, like rhinos, carry on breeding for their entire lives, for Echo, the famous Amboseli elephant has just had a new baby and she is in her mid fifties!

Mpenzi leading  Mpenzi visits the other orphans at the stockades

When Mpenzi became part of Catherine’s wild herd, and Chuma went off with Taru, as young bulls will, Lissa, felt somewhat “dumped and returned to the Orphans group along with Mpenzi briefly, accompanying the still dependent orphans into the Stockades in the evenings to partake of the cut greens and Copra supplement handed out during dry seasons. Since then, however, Lissa has become independent of our orphaned group, and is sometimes seen with Catherine’s group, and at other times returns to spend time with the orphans, usually accompanied by Mpenzi and her two wild-born calves, the first of which arrived in January 1999 and the next in January 2004. Mpenzi has taken on the role of Nannie to Lissa’s two babies, and is extremely protective of them and even aggressive should humans venture too close for comfort. The birth of Lissa’s second calf which took place near the Orphans’ Stockades, was witnessed by our Keepers from the vantage point of a large rock. During the birth Lissa Mpenzi was in close attendance, along with some 50 very excited wild elephants. Lissa’s first calf is named “Lara” and the second, also a female, has been named “Lali”.    

Please see the resources above for more information on MPENZI

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