Edo was born in March 1989 in Amboseli National Park, the son of the then famous Matriarch of the E Amboseli Study Group, named “Emily”, who, shockingly died having eaten from an unsecured Lodge garbage pit. In amongst the waste edibles were bottle tops, batteries, broken glass and even an ashtray, all of which turned up in her stomach contents during the post-mortem examination.
Edo had a lactating older sister and although his gentle mother allowed her grand-daughter to occasionally suckle from her, the sister would not allow the same concession to poor Edo, who was just 6 months old and fully milk dependent when his mother died in l989. He trailed the rest of his elephant family for several weeks, growing consistently weaker through milk deprivation, spending long periods asleep and then having to catch up with them later.
It so happened that at the time of his mother’s death, Edo had been the star of a Japanese documentary, not just because he was such a playful and enchanting calf, but also because the name “Edo” was also the name of the first Japanese capital city. Seeing him deteriorating so rapidly was ruining their film, so they and the Scientists involved in monitoring the Amboseli population allowed this calf to be rescued.
The first rescue attempt undertaken by Daphne’s elder daughter Jill ended in failure, for Edo managed to break out of the back of the Trust’s little Renault 4 van, (at that time the only car at our disposal) and managed to make his way back to rejoin his elephant family out in the Park. Jill then had to wait until the back door of the van was repaired, and Edo was not only much weaker but also asleep some way from his elephant family, before a second attempt could be made. This time they managed to grapple him to the ground, and transport him in the back of the van to our Nairobi elephant Nursery, a distance of over l00 miles. He arrived in September 1989 in a state of collapse, emaciated and lacking the will to even try to live, he simply lay down, closed his eyes and was set to die. No amount of coaxing could persuade him to stand even when lifted to his feet by the Keepers. Nor was he interested in taking milk from a bottle.
Also in the Nursery at the time were Dika (A Tsavo orphan born in l988), Ndume and Malaika, (both born in l989 from the Imenti Forest) and several younger babies. The older orphans were brought to the new arrival and they surrounded him, touching him with their trunks, and rumbling a greeting. Edo opened one bloodshot eye, and was visibly astonished at what he saw - Dika slurping down a bottle of milk with audible relish. Amazingly, Edo immediately came to life and struggled to get up, which he managed with the aid of the Keepers. Standing on wobbly legs, he watched Dika and Ndume down more bottles of milk, and when one was offered to him, he followed suit. We could see him literally gaining strength before our very eyes. He even managed to follow the other orphans to the noon mudbath, and although he refrained from going in, waiting on the sidelines, he was quite calm amongst the visitors, quite used to human company since the Scientists had monitored him and his family from the day he was born. However, also in the Nursery were two young rhinos, Sam and Amboseli who were always accompanied by “Boozie”, the sheep who had been Sam’s constant companion until the arrival of Amboseli, some months later. Edo obviously linked Boozie the sheep to hostile Masai tribesmen, who were in the habit of spearing elephants when they competed with their cattle for water in the Park. He was terrified of her!
Edo, Ndume, Malaika and Dika shared subsequent years at the Voi Rehabilitation facility, joining Olmeg and Taru, who were the front-runners from the Nursery and who had preceded them. All were initially under the Matriarchship of “Eleanor”, an orphan reared in Voi by the late David Sheldrick, who had also been given custody of Lissa and Chuma. All these elephants grew up together and all went wild in the fullness of time, the bulls now classified as the Trust’s Big Boys and Lissa as well as Eleanor with three wild-born calves of their very own.
Today Edo is a magnificent bull of l9 years old, who was last seen in January 2005. His re-appearance on the 30th January 2008 was indeed a Red Letter Day for us, when he returned to the Night Stockades in Voi, where they grew up, after a long absence of almost three full years. He spent a long time there reminiscing about his past and mingling with his erstwhile human family, the Keepers. All our Voi Unit orphans, like him, are finding their independence and are almost rehabilitated back where they belong, amongst the wild community in a Protected Area that can offer them the space they need for a quality of life. He and others like him, are our Pride and Joy, for they reflect Success which compensates for the tears shed over those that never made it.