We embarked on our 45th year at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on a very special note.
It all unfolded yesterday morning, when Edie and Mweya’s ex orphan herd arrived at Voi. They had been away for nearly a year, so the Keepers had been eagerly anticipating what seems to be their annual pilgrimage “home.” They were delighted to find Icholta in their midst, who hadn’t been seen since February 2019. By her side was her firstborn, Inca, who is nearly six years old — along with a tiny, days-old addition! Icholta had just given birth and, as has become a time-honoured tradition among our ex orphan mothers, promptly returned home to introduce her newborn to the men who raised her. We named the baby, who is a lovely little girl, Izzy.
We are happy to report that, even after a long and gruelling dry season, all the homecomers are looking very well. Izzy appears to be every inch a healthy baby, with a round belly and a confident step. Edie and Mweya’s babies are blossoming, especially the mischievous youngsters, Mwitu and Eco. Icholta was an excellent mother to Inca, and we know she will use her expertise to raise Izzy. She is ably assisted by Kihari, who has appointed herself head nanny.
The birth of a baby elephant is always an auspicious occasion, but Izzy’s birth has special significance. She is the 45th known calf born to an orphan we rescued, raised, and reintegrated back into the wild — and the fact that we met her just as we began our 45th year feels fitting indeed.
Daphne Sheldrick founded the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in 1977 with a steadfast dedication to save the African elephant. She was keenly aware that every single orphan saved contributes to this mission. As she used to say, by being instrumental in giving life to one creature, so many others have a chance to live. Shortly after founding the Trust, she wrote, “One last triumph I longed for, was to be able to look with pride on an animal like an elephant, born of a mother I had nurtured from the start, and think, deep inside my heart, ‘But for me……’”
Now, Daphne’s triumph has been realised forty-fivefold. Wild-born babies like Izzy are the next generation of Kenya’s elephants, here today because we gave their mothers life all those years ago.