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 Mulika's wild born baby Mwende's progress at Ithumba - 7/5/2012
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Mulika, rescued from a drying waterhole in Meru National Park in 2001 when 7 months old and hand-reared through the Nairobi Nursery, gave birth to her first wild-born calf either during the night of the 6th November 2011 or during the morning of the 7th at Ithumba in Northern Tsavo East National Park. She brought her newborn to the Orphans Noon mudbath venue at 11.30 a.m. on the 7th to show the baby to the Ithumba Keepers, her human family, and the Keeper Dependent orphans under their care, and to Dame Daphne Sheldrick and her guests who just happened to be there on this prestigious day. The newborn was a baby girl, given the name Mwende, the word for The Loved One in the Mkamba dialect, and a loved one she was, the first wild-born calf to one of our Ithumba Ex Orphans.
Thereafter Mulika and her baby were seen frequently in amongst Yatta's main Ex Orphan herd, tenderly nurtured by a host of caring Ex Orphan Nannies, even swimming in the orphans' mudwallow which became a mini lake during the October/November rains of 2011. However, on the 20th May 2012 Mulika returned to the Stockade compound with her baby, and unusually just stood under the lone tree in the compound which drew the attention of her Keepers. Upon closer inspection, they noticed that her right ear had been pierced by a sharp object, more than likely a sharp stick, but there was the nagging thought of a poisoned arrow too, for there was tell-tale blood on the shoulder behind. Having puffed antibiotic powder in the wound, the Keepers ushered her back into her erstwhile Stockade so that she could be monitored overnight, but when no ill effects were noticed the next morning, she was allowed out, joined by Lualeni, who appeared unexpectedly out of the bush and who has earned the title of Ex Orphan Nurse, since she is always very attentive to any member of the herd who returns injured. Six days later, Mulika and her baby were amongst all the Ex Orphans who came with some wild friends to join the Juniors at their mudbath. The Keepers then observed that little Mwende looked unusually dull and that she had also lost condition. Concluding that Mulika's milk might be failing, more than likely due to the very dry condition, they reported the matter to Trust H.Q. in Nairobi who organized that supplements be flown to Ithumba . Mulika brought her weakened baby back to the Stockades the next day, accompanied by Galana and Lualeni as the Nannies, and there she enjoyed a generous handout of Dairy Cubes and Lucerne to try and stimulate her lactation. It was also touching that the rest of the Ex Orphaned herd turned up that afternoon and were particularly attentive to Mulika and the baby taking the two off amongst them when they departed. However Mulika was back in the evening, when she voluntarily went back into her erstwhile Stockade to enjoy the supplements provided for her, after which she and little Mwende have been regular and very frequent visitors to the Stockades so that Mulika can feast on the extra rations to keep her milk flowing. Within a few days, her breasts filled again, and little Mwende had become stronger, something that has continued since with each passing day.

Mulika with her baby Mwende  Mwende with her mother Mulika

Mwende having milk

Mwende having a nap

Now 8 months old, Mwende is a mischievous, plump and extremely playful infant and because her mother has been a regular presence at the Ithumba stockades, she has become perfectly familiar with her mother's human family - the Keepers - and especially Head Keeper Banjamin, dearly loved by all the Ithumba orphans, and to whom little Mwende is, indeed, The Loved One since it was he who named her. So at home and playful with the Keepers is she when at the compound that one would be excused for not knowing that she was a wild-born baby, very special, there to be enjoyed and loved by the human family, but with her natural mother and Elephant Nannies to care for her rather than a surrogate human family of Keepers. Mulika, like many other Ex orphans who have returned to their human family when in need of human help or care, fully understands that she needed the help of her human friends to save her precious calf and we, her human family, are so very proud to have been able to do so.

Mwende in a playful mood  Wild elephants at the stockade compound

Mwende playing with Benj

Mwende playing with Benj  Mwende playing near the stockades

Mwende with her mother

Our ability to rescue and care for orphaned elephants like Mulika, who eventually grow up and become wild elephants , is reliant on contributions from a compassionate global public. As the Tsavo ecosystem has received very little rain this year, our current challenge is the drought. We are looking to raise funds for supplementary feeding of lucerne for both our orphans and wild elephants during this hardship. Any amount you feel able to give today helps us provide for the orphans in our care and those other elephants in need of our help http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/html/help.html Thank you    

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