Tsavo was hit particularly hard by the 2021-2022 drought. Kenderi is one of the ‘Voi kids,’ an older orphan who was rescued from the Tsavo ecosystem and brought directly to our Voi Reintegration Unit. On 22nd August 2022, a three-year-old orphan was reported at the Sentrim campsite in Tsavo East National Park. She was tellingly thin, very alone and very frightened
Sadly, these sights were all-too-common during the drought: As food depleted, mother elephants were left with a reduced milk supply. Eventually, their undernourished calves were no longer able to keep up with the herd. During difficult times, wildlife must be singularly focused on survival — and thus, the weakest are left behind.
The Voi Keepers reported to the scene. They along with KWS spent several hours trying to trace her family, but there were no other elephants in the area. Once KWS determined that she was an orphan, the team organised a rescue. Because of her older age and proximity to Voi, she was taken to our Voi Reintegration Unit, in the hope that maybe one day she will reunite with her natal herd.
Aside from malnutrition, Kenderi didn’t have any major health issues. However, she was quite large and very flighty, so she spent a good long while in the taming stockades to acclimate to her new life.
Since joining the Voi herd out in the bush, however, Kenderi hasn’t skipped a beat. She is very protective of her new family. We were reminded of this when Ndotto challenged matriarch Mbegu to a wrestling match. Kenderi was alarmed to see her nanny twisting around with a big bull and, in a desire to protect her, she bravely attempted to interrupt the contest.
Another day, the dependent herd encountered a large group of wild elephants at the mud bath. Kenderi and a few other ‘Voi kids’ sprinted towards them, ears flared and trunks aloft. They were determined to defend the rest of the Voi orphans from these [harmless] interlopers. Despite being rescued on the older side, Kenderi loves her new family and will do anything to protect them. This lucky young elephant is extremely happy with life.