Lissa was born in Tsavo in 1986, and was found abandoned and alone near Mackinnon Road a victim of the poaching that was rampant during the latter half of the seventies, eighties and early nineties
Lissa was born in Tsavo in 1986, and was found abandoned and alone near Mackinnon Road a victim of the poaching that was rampant during the latter half of the seventies, eighties and early nineties. Known as the years of the “elephant holocaust”. Armed Somali poachers invaded Tsavo following the death of David Sheldrick, and poached elephant carcases were found on a daily basis throughout the Park. One of these, near Mackinnon Road, was obviously the mother of this calf. At the time she was pathetically emaciated, and had a back leg that had obviously been broken in infancy, and had healed mis-shapen, all too obvious in view of the gaunt appearance of this calf, who had practically no flesh on her bones when she was rescued. She grew up looked after by our orphaned Matriach Eleanor and dedicated Keepers.
When Lissa was 14 years old, together with Mpenzi having made the transition to being a wild elephant, she gave birth to her first calf in mid January 1999. We gave the calf the name “Lara”. On the 22nd November 2002, Lissa returned to the base of Mazinga Hill in the vicinity of the Stockades, along with a large herd of about 50 wild elephants, all in a great state of excitement. Sensing that something unusual was about to happen, some of the Keepers climbed onto a huge rock, and from this vantage point, they could see Lissa in the midst of the wild group, obviously in labour, lying down and getting up at intervals. After a while, the baby was born as she was in a squatting position, and amazingly, a huge bull barged through the attendant cows, and immediately mated poor Lissa. (Apparently, the hormones released when a birth is imminent, and during the birthing process, closely resemble those of a cow in estrous. In a natural elephant family, the cow about to give birth would leave with a few close adult female relatives to seek a secluded spot, protected by her adult female family). After Lissa’s second baby was born, the excitement within the herd was intense, with trumpeting, rumbling, and elephants milling around the mother and her baby, trying to encourage the baby to its feet. When things quietened down again, and the baby was moving on wobbly legs, Lissa and Mpenzi took the new calf under shade, and the other elephants began to disperse. The Keepers were able to see that her second baby was also a female and we have named her “Lali”. In March 2007 Lissa surprised us all again by returning to the stockades with a tiny third wild born calf, about two to three months old, her first little boy, who we have called "Lugard". Lissa, and her family unit, with Mpenzi still in attendence and often with wild friends, remain regular visitors of the still dependent orphans. Hence, the tragic little orphan from Mackinnon road, with the mis-shapen hind leg, is now a healthy, healed and very successful elephant mother - one of the Trust’s proudest success stories.