Published on the 12th of March, 2017
We received exciting news in early March, news that Ndara had just given birth to her first-born baby, a little boy we named “Neptune”. On the 4th of the month the Keepers noticed an unusual gathering that included wild-born babies Eve, little Emma, Safi, Eden, baby Thor along with their mothers and a few more of the female Ex Orphans in Emily’s herd. Upon taking a closer look the Keepers were greeted with the news that Ndara had delivered a baby boy and Emma, Emily’s second born calf, was obviously basking in the attention the little one was paying her as he touched her with his tiny quivering trunk.
Mweya seemed to be the self-appointed Nannie of the little one. Together with Kinna’s baby “Kama” at Ithumba, this makes a total of 25 wild born babies to our Ex Orphans, each one a triumph of the Orphans Project and we couldn’t be more delighted.
Ndara came to us in September 2001 when she was 8 months old, rescued from an open-water pipeline manhole near Maungu town, Tsavo East. When the keepers arrived at the scene they found a group of curious villagers gathered around the hole all trying to comfort the helpless and by now, terrified, baby. It was learned from the residents that the calf fell into the hole the previous night when a herd of elephants had visited the area for a drink but by now, there were no elephants in the area. When the team first arrived only the calf’s head was visible above the water and she was struggling to remain afloat, bruising her forehead, back and rump in the process. One of our Keepers squeezed into the hole and passed a soft belt rope under her chest and hind quarters. She was heavy and there was little room to maneuver, so it took nearly 45 minutes to extract the calf.
Other than the apparently superficial wounds on her body, the calf looked healthy and strong and she soon she settled. Another elephant was rescued from the same hole in June 2001 called Maungu and from day one, Ndara struck up a very friendship with her; she who had suffered the very same fate. There was no question that they knew one another, for recognition was immediate, and what had obviously been a close friendship in the wild was perpetuated; these two grew up together firm friends. Sadly, Maungu died a number of years later from a clotted mass in her heart, caused we think from the injuries she sustained when she fell into the manhole years before.
Ndara thankfully continued to thrive and was spared lasting injuries, and she became an integral member of Emily's herd in Voi. A future with her own mother was lost to Ndara but the DSWT Orphans Projects granted her a second chance at life and she now lives as a free and wild elephant. Her journey has not been without its trials and tribulations for Ndara was a victim of poaching suffering from three poisoned arrows penetrating her leg joint and abdomen and back respectively. It took two operations and intensive care spanning many months to nurse Ndara back to full health, and in that critical time she chose to stay in the confines of a large stockade, enjoying food and water on tap, and the dependent orphans provided her with daily company, understanding she needed to rest unable to walk miles in search of food. The stockade door remained open during the day for Ndara to wander further afield at a time of her choosing and slowly this happened. First she stayed within the dependent Voi orphan’s group, but slowly ventured further afield, and when she barely had a limp she once again joined Emily’s herd. http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/updates/updates.asp?ID=424
These dramas feel like a life time ago, but it does make the day she became the proud mother to Neptune extra special for all of us who have been able to share her life, and save her not once, but twice. She is such a proud, responsible and caring mother to Neptune, a little dream nestling on wobbly legs glued to her side, with many attentive Nannies in tow, the friends she has grown up with, all orphans themselves.