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

Name Gender Date Born Location Found Age on Arrival Comments Reason for being Orphaned
 SUNYEI  Female  June 2003 Ol Donyo Nyiro  10 Days Old  Fell into a hole dug by tribesmen at Oldonyo Nyiro  Man Made Cause for Separation 

Latest Updates on SUNYEI:

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

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

11/17/2018 - It was an active morning when we received visitors from Yatta's group with Lualeni, Sunyei, Nasalot and Galana with their babies and nannies. We had also few wild bulls among them. They all looked active and strong. Wendi, Kinna and Mulika with their babies are the only who were not present today. Siku was playing and kissing her mum Sunyei. Ishanga smelled the air with her trunk held up high. The orphans had their milk and joined them too. Mundusi and Nusu were playing and patting each other with their trunks around the water trough.

When all the elephants walked out to the forest, the ex-orphans separated themselves from the group, leaving behind Narok, Orwa and Bomani with the dependent orphans. They stayed with them the whole morning and later walked with them to the mud bath for their milk. Roi is the one who led them. The orphans had their milk and walked over to the water trough where some wild bulls were drinking. They were very welcoming and allowed them to drink too. Because it was cloudy, none of the orphans felt like swimming and the orphans walked out to browse.

All the orphans concentrated on browsing, including Narok, Orwa and Bomani. Pare and Mundusi later led the group back home in the evening for their milk with Kithaka, Barsilinga, Laragai and Garzi among them.

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

 Sunyei with trunk extended Sunyei
Sunyei with trunk extended
photo taken on 11/1/2004
Sunyei
photo taken on 11/1/2004

ORPHAN PROFILE FOR: SUNYEI (foster now)


Elephant rescues are always fraught for time is of the essence, and every minute of every hour can mean the difference between life and death. Communications are difficult when a tiny elephant is found miles from anywhere – this orphan having fallen into a hole in a Sand River not far from a remote Northern Kenyan town called Ol Donyo Nyiro in Laikipia District.

Sunyei is lifted off the pickup by one of his Samburu Warrior rescuers  She is happy to follow anyone as the plane is prepared for the return flight

Monday 9th June and a signal arrives from the Kenya Wildlife Service alerting us to the fact that a tiny elephant had been rescued by Samburu tribesmen the previous day having been found stuck in a deep hole in a sand lugga. Currently it was being held at the Police Post in Ol Donyo Nyiro town.

Already a day had past and the time in Nairobi was 1 p.m. It is important to establish (l) the exact location of this remote town and Police Post within the vastness of Laikipia District, (2) whether the calf is, in fact, still alive, before incurring the expense of mobilizing an Aircraft (3) that transport be sourced to bring the calf to the nearest airfield, having found out exactly where the nearest Airstrip is and (4) assuming that the calf is still living, that it be given rehydration salts a.s.a.p. to counter death through dehydration and stress.

Edwin and Julius make sure she has a feed before the flight to Nairobi  Throughout the flight she nestles close to the Keepers

Trying to contact the remote Police Post via a crackly and broken radio signal was obviously proving a near impossibility, and the minutes were ticking by with no further news. So, thank heavens for mobile phones and Tom Silvester, the extremely elephant-friendly Manager of Loisaba Ranch who knew exactly where Ol Donyo Nyiro town was and who told us that the nearest airfield was his own at Loisaba. Very kindly he offered his help and leaping into his vehicle, headed for the Police Post in question, a journey that would take at least 45 minutes there and 45 minutes back, driving on rutted dirt roads. We requested that he phone us with news of the elephant as soon as he got there.

At last light she is loaded onto the pickup for the drive from Wilson Airstrip to the drive to the nursery  Sunyei takes some rehydation salts from Edwin early the next morning.jpg

Meanwhile, back in Nairobi, rehydration fluids and milk was being prepared for the flight in the usual compartmentalized Beer Crate. Out came the usual rescue kit – the circular tarpaulin with handles attached all round, a blanket to keep the baby warm, a mattress on which to lay the calf in the plane, all the while praying that the calf was, indeed, small enough to forego sedation for the flight.

Finally news came from Tom Silvester. The calf was, indeed, still alive and quite strong, but obviously newborn, the umbilicus still attached. Now the plane could be given the green light to take off heading for Loisaba Airfield an hour away with very little time at their disposal in order to be back in Nairobi with its precious cargo in daylight!

Sunyei  Sunyei playing with her tyre and Keepers


At the remote Police Post Tom Silvester was encountering the usual bureaucratic red tape because the authorities needed official clearance from Nairobi to release the calf. Radio relays to K.W.S. managed to solve this problem. The tribesmen who had rescued the calf, were reluctant to see it go, because already it was “their” elephant, following them trustingly and nuzzling them with its baby trunk. Tom assured them that it would be in safe hands, and soon he was on his way, heading back to Loisaba Airfield. There he had just a 15 minute wait before the plane was circling overhead, which had taken off from Nairobi the moment we had positive news.

Sunyei takes a walk with Edwin  Sunyei on her first day in the nursery

Meanwhile, Tom Silvester told us that the calf was a female, and not a bull, as we had previously been told. (A very common mistake). He suggested the name “Ntome”, the Samburu word an elephant calf. We mulled over this name, discussing it with our Samburu Keepers, because we already had “Ndume” from the Imenti Forest and “Natumi” from Nanyuki, as well as “Thoma” from Thomson’s Falls, names that were very like “Ntome”. We asked for the Samburu word for “Sand River” and were given “Sunyei” so we decided that the new baby should be called Sunyei.

It was 6.45 p.m. in the evening before little “Sunyei” arrived in the Nairobi Nursery.
She was given the usual antibiotic precautionary injection, hungrily downed 3 pints of milk and 3 pints of re-hydration, taking another 9 pints at intervals throughout the night, and in between, sleeping quietly, too young to be subjected to the usual trauma that is part and parcel of losing a mother and family. Having well-intentionally been given cow’s milk by her Samburu rescuers, we anticipated difficulties with the stomach, but apart from that, Sunyei was not in bad shape, although quite lean, coming as she did from an elephant population constantly at risk and constantly on the move in an extremely arid part of the world.

Sunyei relaxing  Sunyei with trunk extended

Sunyei on the ground

Sunyei was a favourite in the Nairobi Nursery. She moved in July 2005 to the Ithumba Unit with her friends Galana, Madiba and Ndomot. Sunyei still roams with Galana in Yatta's ex-orphan herd at Ithumba, and in that glorious month of October in 2017 when 3 of our ex-orphans had babies, Sunyei was one who gave birth to her first wild-born calf, Siku, a beautiful little girl. We are so happy to see this ex-orphan herd happy and living a full and complete life in the wild.    

Please see the resources above for more information on SUNYEI

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