It’s another momentous day today with 14 year old Loijuk choosing to return to the SWT Ithumba stockades to give birth to her first wild-born baby, with nannies Naserian and Ithumbah in tow, protectively shadowing her and her perfect little calf, born in the early hours of Sunday 1st September.
Her tiny baby, a little girl, was paraded proudly by mum - showing off her precious gift to her much-loved human family and the riveted dependent orphans! It is so special to witness Loijuk welcome and encourage the interaction, inviting head Keeper Benjamin to enjoy her newborn baby, unperturbed by their shenanigans together, and to immediately see the joy this new life brings the whole Ithumba Unit of dependent orphans and ex-orphan’s alike.
We have named our latest arrival - grandchild number 31 that we know of - Lili. A beautiful and fitting name given that Loijuk was named after a swamp close to where she was rescued in a drought year in northern Kenya, though parched dry at the time. This same place with favorable rains is transformed into a lush veritable paradise, filled with water birds and life, and carpeted with wild water lilies.
It has been a special journey with Loijuk, which began when we saved this wonderfully loving elephant back in 2006, when she was only five months old. Watching her heal, flourish and transition to a wild independent life again in the span of 14 years, surrounded by ex-orphans and wild elephant friends, and now to see her transform into a mother is the ultimate affirmation of a job well done. It was these moments that Daphne (Sheldrick) who founded the SWT, found the most rewarding of all, particularly as they choose to share them with us, and are always so trusting and gracious with their human family, never forgetting the kindness, love and compassion shown and shared in their time of need, and it is these treasured moments that bring home the full impact of Daphne’s extraordinary legacy, the tiny footsteps of the next generations of wild born babies whose lives are testament of her remarkable work and life's calling. They further ensure her memory forever lives on as a shining example of someone whose pioneering work, love and compassion continues to give the gift of life over and over again .
September is now the peak of the dry season, not the most favorable of conditions for a new baby, so we are delighted that Loijuk has returned close to home so that we can help supplement her when she visits with additional lucerne to keep her condition remaining good and her milk bar full until the rains break, which we can expect in November.