A new little nymph just flitted into northern Tsavo. First-time mum Naisula — an orphan we rescued, raised, and reintegrated back into the wild — has given birth to a beautiful baby girl!
In the very early hours of 5th December, a member of the team tuned into the Ithumba night vision camera, which looks across the surrounding Tsavo wilderness. As the Christmas poem goes, “Not a creature was stirring…” All the orphans were tucked into their stockades, while a small group of ex-orphans slept outside. Because they feel so safe at Ithumba, two of the elephants were slumbering recumbent, while one was standing.
But then, in the bottom of the camera frame, something moved. Zooming in closer, they saw a tiny figure darting beneath the standing elephant. With a start, they realised that the ex-orphan in question was Naisula — and that the cavorting creature was her baby, who had clearly been born earlier that night!
Naisula’s baby clearly wanted a bit more pomp and circumstance surrounding her midnight debut. She kept settling down to sleep, only to spring to her feet a few minutes later and run around. Frustrated that her nannies were slumbering, she nudged them with her little head, urging them to wake up. Olare, who was determined to get more rest, gently swatted the calf away with her foot!
This was a momentous night for Naisula. You would never guess that she had become a mother mere hours before: While her friends enjoyed some well-earned sleep, she stood sentry. You could almost see the pride in her face as she watched her daughter flit about.
The next morning, everyone woke up refreshed and ready to start a new day — though perhaps not as well-rested as they wished! The Keepers found Naisula and her newborn standing outside the stockades, alongside Olare, Loijuk, and Lojuk’s three-year-old daughter, Lili.
As has become a time-honoured tradition among our ex-orphan mums, Naisula made it her first priority to introduce her newborn to the men who raised her. She clearly headed to Ithumba right after giving birth and then waited patiently until dawn to present her baby to her human-elephant family. In honour of her nocturnal arrival, we have named Naisula’s daughter Nyx, after the Greek goddess of the night.
For many of the orphans, it was as if Christmas had come early. Our baby-obsessed girls Malkia, Mteto, Malima, and Esampu were beyond excited to find a newborn in their midst, like the most perfect gift! They shuffled around her, each jostling for any opportunity to step in as a mini nanny.
After the morning meet-and-greet, Naisula, Nyx, Olare, Loijuk, and Lili disappeared into the bush. Everyone got a real thrill when they linked up with the dependent orphans at the midday mud bath. Little Nyx was confident, curious, and full of energy. After spending about an hour with the Ithumba herd, they peeled off. Rain has finally arrived in Ithumba, so elephants can afford to travel far and wide now, with a bounty of fresh greens at their feet.
This is the beginning of a remarkable new chapter in Naisula’s story — a story that has spanned some 12 years and counting. We rescued Naisula from Samburu in 2010. The reason she was orphaned remains a mystery, but we suspect she lost her mother to poachers.
For many reasons, Naisula was a remarkable rescue. She was nearly two years old when she arrived at the Nursery. Usually, orphans of this age — particularly those who come from an area where elephants have been persecuted by humans — are quite leery and suspicious. But Naisula was different. She was friendly and trusting from the very start. The day she arrived, she accepted milk without hesitation, happily slept with a Keeper beside her, and woke up the next morning ready to join the rest of the Nursery herd.
Naisula means ‘victorious girl’ in Samburu. It is a name chosen by Naisula's first Keepers, who were so impressed by her gentle disposition. Our girl was victorious simply by surviving all those years ago — and now, she has a new victory to celebrate with the arrival of her beautiful daughter. We know that Naisula will navigate motherhood with her signature grace and competence. Nyx is very lucky to have such a lovely, loving mother.