At the foothills of Mt. Kenya there is a community area known as 'Wathi' near Sagana which lies within the traditional migratory route of the Mt. Kenya population of elephants, who since time immemorial have used this route to reach other ranges and fraternize with friends who live further afield. However, this area is very densely populated by the Kikuyu people, whose livelihood is agriculturally based, and who have been driven to protecting their crops by surrounding them with electric fencing.
At 5 a.m. on the morning of Saturday 1st March, a community farmer named Mr. Kimaru noticed a lone elephant calf beyond the fenceline, which had obviously become separated and left behind by the passing herd. The Mt. Kenya elephants know all too well how much at risk they immediately become once they have stepped beyond their forested stronghold on the slopes of Kenyas highest mountain. Once in the densely populated and intensely farmed foothills, they immediately become the enemy of every farmer eking out a living, and as such have long been harassed, hunted and killed as problem animals by folk who up until quite recently have not been ele-friendly. However, that is now changing, thanks to the input of caring N.G.O.s such as the Bill Woodley Mt. Kenya Trust, and the community work of The Kenya Wildlife Service, not forgetting the input of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust with our own Keepers, who broadcast in their tribal language regularly through the Kameme Fm radio program in Kikuyu.
With dawn fast approaching, something probably panicked the herd, which fled leaving the calf behind in the confusion, for it was in good condition. Mr. Kimaru contacted Edwin, the Community Officer of the Mt. Kenya Bill Woodley Trust, and the Kenyan Wildlife Service, after which Suzie Weeks of the Bill Woodley Trust dispatched a vehicle and personnel to help capture the calf and transport it to the nearest airfield (Nanyuki), there to await the arrival of the chartered rescue plane which was in the process of being organized by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The calf was captured at noon by Edwin of the Bill Woodley Mt. Kenya Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service Rangers and members of the community, and driven in a Pickup to the Nanyuki airstrip, a journey that took about one hour. It was then flown to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trusts Elephant Nursery in Nairobi, there to become the 9th elephant calf currently in residence in the Nursery.
The elephant calf is a little female, roughly 8 months old and our Keepers decided that she be awarded the name KENIA (spelt differently to the country name to avoid confusion with our website's automated search program) to mark the successful outcome of mediation by Mr. Koffi Annan which hopefully will restore peace following the disputed Presidential elections of last year. Tribally driven unrest due to alleged vote rigging has cost the lives of hundreds of Kenyans and displaced thousands of others. Most Kenyans are shell-shocked by what has taken place in their country which has been stable, democratic and peaceful for over 45 years of independence and which has always been the Show Piece of Africa. Resolution of the crisis took place a couple of days before the latest orphan was brought and it generated a Carnival atmosphere. Our latest little elephant orphan is named Kenia in celebration of an anticipated return to normalcy amongst all the tribes that make up the population of Kenya, and fittingly too as she comes from the forests of Mt. Kenya.