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 Friends for Life - 5/18/2011
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Enduring friendships within Elephant society, just as in human society, are common and  are always extremely touching, few more so than the enduring bond forged in early infancy between Orphaned Elephants LESANJU and LEMPAUTE.   They were rescued within a month of one another towards the end of 2006, shared Nursery time together as tiny week old newborns, where LESANJU evolved into the Nursery’s Mini-Matriarch and LEMPAUTE earned the reputation of being the most mischievous elephant ever -  a real prangster with a definite sense of humour who enjoyed nothing more than playing tricks on all the others as well as muddying all the daily human visitors to the orphans’ noon mudbath!  
LESANJU was rescued from a well dug to access water for the Samburu cattle in the Milgis Lugga between the Mathews and the Ndotos range of hills in the Northern Kenya.   Her rescuer was the brother of a very respected deceased Samburu Chief named “LESANJU” and the tiny calf was named “LESANJU” in his honour.   Unfortunately, however, Samburu tribesmen opted to “mark” their special elephant orphan permanently by slashing her ears, so LESANJU will always be distinctive because of this mutilation of her ears.   (However, since then tribesmen of her natal area have vowed never again to do such a thing to an elephant’s ears).

Lesanju the day she arrived, exhausted  Lesanju arrives by helicopter

Lesanju the day she arrived

Lesanju when she arrived at the Nursery in 2006  Lesanju with Dame Daphne Sheldrick and Sir Richard Branson

A month later in November 2006 LEMPAUTE (whose name means “Big Pool of Water”) was rescued by Scouts as a 2 – 3 week old baby at a large waterhole in the Samburu West Gate Conservancy.   From the very start these two tiny infant elephants clung together and to their surrogate human family who had the difficult task of healing LESANJU’s wounded ears.   However, having been orphaned so young, the two infants were probably barely able to even remember their wild existence so they found comfort and companionship in one another both being of a comparable age.

Lempaute when she arrived in 2006  Angela Sheldrick with Lempaute the day she arrived

Lempaute and Lesanju in 2007

Lempaute with Amos in 2006  Lesanju and Lempaute as babies

Lesanju and Lempaute running  Edwin Lesanju, Lempaute and Shimba

In the Nursery they both thrived and in the fullness of time it was their turn to graduate and embark on the next important phase of life, the gradual repatriation back into the wild elephant community of Tsavo East National Park. 

Lesanju and Lemapute at the Nursery with Shimba and others in 2008  Lemapute and Lesanju during games in 2008

Lesanju mothering Sabachi in 2009

  They were transferred to the Voi Elephant Stockades on the 29th April 2009 along with another Nursery ex Amboseli orphaned elephant named “SINYA” and there they joined WASESSA, Shimba, MZIMA and SIRIA moved from the Nairobi Nursery a few months earlier after the Stockades had been  rested for a period of 2 years following the transition of EMILY’s unit to a wild status.

Lemapute leading the nursery orphans in 2009  Sinya & Lempaute in 2009

Lesanju & Sinya on thier last day at Nairobi Nursery 2009  Lempaute May 2011

As the only female at the Voi Stockades at the time, WASESSA had her hands full trying to keep order among the three Junior boys of her group, Shimba, MZIMA and SIRIA so she was delighted to welcome LESANJU, LEMPAUTE and SINYA into the fold, of course remembering them clearly from her Nursery time.   Immediately LESANJU was bent on establishing her supremacy, not wishing to relinquish her Matriarchal status and in this she enjoyed the unbridled support of LEMPAUTE who was never far from her side, the two presenting a united front before WASESSA and SINYALESANJU succeeded and today is acknowledged as the Matriarch and Leader of the Keeper Dependent Voi Elephant Orphans, currently numbering 11 young growing Ex Nursery elephants.   Still, today, today LESANJU and LEMPAUTE remain inseparable.

Lesanju May 2011  Great friends for life, Lesanju and Lempaute May 2011


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