Loijuk's New Baby, Lisha

Published on the 17th of April, 2024

Our extended family continues to grow! Not two weeks after ex-orphan Galana introduced us to her new daughter — Ithumba’s first wild-born baby of 2024 — Loijuk arrived with her own bundle of joy in tow.

11th April started like any other day for our Ithumba herd. After a sedate morning, the orphans proceeded to the browsing field — where a wonderful surprise awaited. Ex-orphan Loijuk; her four-year-old daughter, Lili; and Siangiki, Mundusi, Kama, Makena, Karisa, and Sita emerged from the wilderness. We quickly realised that her team had a delightful addition: A beautiful, brand new baby, who must have been born the night before! We named her daughter Lisha.

A perfect family portrait: Loijuk, Lisha, and Lili

The timing of this introduction was particularly poignant: The following day, 12th April, marked the sixth anniversary of Daphne Sheldrick’s passing. As we often say, the great matriarchs never really leave us. They hand down a legacy that continues long after their time on earth has ended.

Daphne loved nothing more than seeing ex-orphans thriving in their wild lives

When she founded the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in 1977, Daphne realised that we had the potential to impact generations of elephants. She always said that looking upon the orphans we rescued flooded her with a special feeling of creation; by being instrumental in giving life to one animal, so many others have a chance to live. In those early years, she wrote, “One last triumph I longed for, was to be able to look with pride on an animal like an elephant, born of a mother I had nurtured from the start, and think, deep inside my heart, ‘But for me……’”

Loijuk shortly after her 2006 rescue

Loijuk was rescued in 2006, very much in Daphne’s time. A drought victim, she arrived at the Nursery with a dire case of pneumonia. Her temperature plummeted, liquid leaked out of her lungs, and her trunk became icy cold. Seeking a miracle, we brought the other orphans to her stable. They tenderly wrapped their trunks around her, as if urging her to fight her fate. This seemed to be all Loijuk required: Her eyes brightened and we realised there was life in her yet. We count Loijuk among our great successes.

Ithumba Head Keeper Benjamin meeting Loijuk's first baby, Lili

The following year, Loijuk graduated to our Ithumba Reintegration Unit. She first became a mother in 2019, at the age of 14. As has become a time-honoured tradition among our orphans, Loijuk promptly returned ‘home’ to introduce us to her daughter, who we named Lili. Daphne was not alive to meet Lili, but as we remarked at the time, ‘It was these moments that Daphne found the most rewarding of all, particularly as the orphans choose to share them with us. The orphans 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.’

Loijuk, Lisha, and Lili

Five years later, when Loijuk became a mother for the second time, she again invited us to be part of her milestone. To see these vulnerable orphans transform into confident, competent mothers is the ultimate affirmation of a job well done.

(It is also worth noting that this was purely a social visit. Ithumba is a jungle right now, with all the food and water any elephant could possibly want. Loijuk and her team only stopped by briefly, to introduce Lisha to the men who were so instrumental in her mother’s life.)

Beautiful baby Lisha

Loijuk's entire team looked happy and healthy. Lili has embraced the role of big sister with aplomb: When Naleku (a dependent orphan who is always keen to nanny) tried to get close to Lisha, Lili promptly banished her from the scene. Poor Naleku was forced to trail the group from a distance, staring wistfully at the tiny calf!

Loijuk and her newest addition

To date, we have met 61 calves born to orphans we rescued, raised, and reintegrated back into the wild. Lisha is but the latest in a family tree that continues to grow, all because of a life saved. Every time we meet one of these little babies, we can’t help but think, “But for she……”

Supporting Generations of Elephants

Wild-born babies like Lisha are the future of Kenya's elephants — and they are here today because of an orphan rescued many years ago. Donors make these success stories possible, allowing us to save the orphans of today and pave the way for generations of elephants.

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