A Surprise Reunion With Ngasha

Published on the 20th of March, 2024

We were treated to the most wonderful surprise this week: After nearly seven months away, our old friend Ngasha reappeared on the scene.

On 18th March, a friendly elephant loitering near Kanziku Gate in Tsavo East National Park was reported to Ithumba Head Keeper Benjamin. He went to investigate — and came face to face with Ngasha!

Our initial sighting of Ngasha, loitering outside Kanziku Gate

This was a much-anticipated reunion: On 26th August 2023, Ngasha was relocated to Ithumba from our Umani Springs Reintegration Unit. A large group of ex-orphans were present to welcome him, including his old Nursery friend, Kauro. They escorted the newcomer into the wilderness, and we have not had a confirmed Ngasha sighting since. While we weren’t overly concerned about his absence — he had a vast new wilderness to explore, plus a bounty of food and water at every turn — we were anxious to see him again.

The following day, Head Keeper Benjamin met him ambling down the road

Ngasha has always been a very stubborn elephant, and this week's encounter proved that not much has changed. Benjamin tried to coax him in the direction of the stockades, but the 12-year-old bull refused to budge. We left the gate open in the hopes that he would return of his own accord.

Benjamin reports that Ngasha was in excellent condition and high spirits

The next day, Benjamin returned to the Kanziku Gate area. As he made his way up the road, a stunning elephant sauntered down to meet him — Ngasha again! Benjamin treated him to a bale of lucerne, which he happily tucked into. After a brief meeting, Ngasha continued on his way, heading in the direction of Ithumba Hill. (It didn’t escape our notice that he took some lucerne for the road!) We hope that he will make another appearance in the coming days, but either way, we know he is in the area.

He enjoyed a little lucerne treat, even grabbing an extra trunkful for the journey

It was wonderful to see Ngasha looking so content and healthy. This sighting also confirmed that moving him to Ithumba was the right choice. Over the past eight years, Ngasha had become increasingly ill-mannered and unruly at Umani. We concluded that he was suffering from a case of ‘big fish, small pond’: The Kibwezi Forest is a relatively intimate environment. While it is home to a thriving population of wild elephants, it lacks the volume of wild visitors and ex-orphans that can be found in Tsavo. Ngasha needed to spread his wings in a larger landscape, surrounded by bulls who would cut him down to size.

Ngasha walking off towards Ithumba Hill

We can only imagine what adventures Ngasha has had in the past seven months, but one thing is abundantly clear: He is thriving in his new home.

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