In 1988 a two-year-old orphaned female elephant calf was rescued near Mackinnon road and brought to be raised at Voi in Tsavo East by Daphne Sheldrick and her team, having been found alone in an emaciated condition with a misshapen back leg that had obviously been broken. It was believed Lissa, so named after her rescuer, was a victim of the rampant poaching which was rife during the eighties and early nineties with poached elephant carcasses found almost on a daily basis.
Lissa was successfully hand-raised in Voi, where she overcame both her emotional and physical trauma, growing up as part of the then famous Tsavo East orphaned elephant herd. Her early years were under the watchful eye of Eleanor and later an orphan matriarch called Malaika, who heartbreakingly died while giving birth to her first wild born calf. Lissa's story, despite her tragic start, is a tale of new beginnings as she has truly known the joy of family while living a wild and free life, now nearly 30 years on.
On the 20th of August 2016 after a lengthy absence of almost three years Lissa reappeared at the Voi stockades in the company of her first born Lara and her third born Lugard, surprising and delighting the keepers. Lissa also brought along a new wild bundle of joy, a male calf of approximately four months old who has since been named Leo, seemingly totally familiar with the set up at the Voi stockades.
Leo is Lissa’s sixth wild born baby. Her first calf was born in 1999 whom we called Lara, her second born Lali, was born in 2002, the third born, this time a baby boy, was born in 2007 and named Lugard whilst her fourth born was another baby boy called Lazima who came along in 2011. Her fifth born calf is Luna, born in 2014..
UPDATE: In the week following Lissa’s visit, she continued to return to our Reintegration Unit and our Keepers were granted the opportunity to spend more time with her family. Our keepers soon realised with great excitement that there was yet another female calf of approximately five months old within the family unit and it was established that this one was amazingly Lissa’s first granddaughter; Lara’s first born baby. This little granddaughter has since been named Leah.
We hope in the coming weeks and months that Lissa and her extended family will reward us with further visits so that we can proudly share in her life's journey and by so doing be further enlightened about the nature of these highly intelligent animals.
It has been wonderful to share in the joys of this wild elephant family, which was all made possible through Lissa, her rescue, and her ultimate successful rehabilitation back into the wilds of Tsavo. It is experiencing occasions such as these which symbolises the work of the DSWT, showing that all the hard effort and dedicated support from our global supporters can not only save wild lives but help create them.