Female Orphans and their Suitors

In both humans and elephants there is a mysterious quality with which some people, and elephants, are endowed, that mysterious hidden attraction for the opposite sex, known as Sex Appeal

In both humans and elephants there is a mysterious quality with which some people, and elephants, are endowed, that mysterious hidden attraction for the opposite sex, known as Sex Appeal.   Amongst our orphans there are two individuals who possess this quality in abundance, for they never fail to attract the attention of visiting bulls, both the now grown ex orphans, but also wild visitors, who home in on them and pay them more attention that any of the other females, of which, within the Voi Unit, we have another ten.   These two elephants that are so special to the bulls are Aitong and Edie.

To human eyes, Aitong would seem an unlikely candidate, because she would be classified as rather an unattractive elephant, sway-backed and angular.   But to the male elephants she is so irresistible, so much so that she has acquired the nick-name of “Slapper of Mazinga Hill”!   Aitong has been mated many times by wild bulls, even willingly separated from her peers for a special mating honeymoon that spanned several days, a month or two ago, by a very handsome, very large, wild male, so we can probably expect an elephant grandchild in another two years time.

Aitong came to us as a two week old calf from the Masai Mara in November l994 with a head injury that left her only able to walk in circles for many weeks.   We wondered if she would ever be able to come right, but gradually, by holding onto the tail of Dika, she learnt how to walk straight, and gradually recovered fully to become a member of the Voi Unit, taking on the role of Nannie to all the youngsters, but giving preference to one small orphan named Sweet Sally, ex Sweetwaters Ranch, who looks upon Aitong as her new mother and who is glued to Aitong’s side, and always has been.   Aitong is now rising 13 years old, so, assuming that she is pregnant, she will be 15 when she gives birth to her first calf – the normal age for an elephant to give birth to a firstborn.

Edie arrived in the Nairobi Nursery when approximately 4 months old in April 1999, having fallen down a well dug in a sand lugga by tribesmen for their cattle on Namunyak Conservancy in Northern Kenya.   Like Aitong, she is always singled out both by ex orphan Big Boys, and also visiting Wild Boys, a regular suitor being Uaso, who never fails to seek her out whenever he turns up.   He now spends a lot of time back with his previous orphaned family, although now leading a normal wild life, and we think the attraction is Edie!   He also spends a lot of time with Emily’s now wild unit, which incorporates Aitong, Sweet Sally, Ndara, and Loisaba, and off and on, Ilingwezi, who divides her time between the still dependent Voi unit and Emily’s wild unit.

Emily is the Matriarch of her now wild “family” of orphans, named above, and she too has lately been attracting the attention of visiting wild Bulls, and has been seen to have been mated on several occasions.   Emily originated in Tsavo West, and came to us in October l993, orphaned by poachers when just l month old.   She grew up to become the Matriarch of the Voi Unit, and still keeps in regular touch with the still dependent youngsters, despite the fact that she is now living wild and free.   She is now a cow of 14, but we feel that Aitong might well “pip her to the post” in terms of a first baby.

It has been a great thrill for us that the early famous Tsavo Matriarch named Eleanor, has made contact again with the Voi Unit’s orphans after an absence of l0 years, living as a wild elephant, and has shown us her three calves, one aged l0, whom she was carrying when she severed her human ties entirely, another aged 5 and a new baby born this year.