It is with a sense of joy, wonder and amazement that we see wild newborn, and wild living little ‘Emma’ racing around the legs of her vigilant ex orphan ‘Nannies’ as well as those of Emily, her mother, who came to us in early infancy as an orphan and who was, like many other newborn orphaned peers, so problematical to steer through the first three milk dependent years of early elephant life, and most especially through the first four months needed to cut their first set of four infant molars. In an orphans situation these months are invariably life threatening triggering fevers and scouring that are difficult to control and can cost a baby elephant’s life within days. Unlike our newborn orphans, baby Emma is plump and playfully healthy, as a newborn baby elephant should be, and we constantly grapple with what the secret could be in elephant mother’s milk which we as humans simply cannot duplicate to obtain the same result, even after 50 years of trial and error.
But that said, to see the healthy and happy wild born offspring of an elephant mother whose life we were able to save, leading a normal and sheltered wild life amongst her natural elephant family (All once orphans themselves) speaks volumes in terms of the reward.
By Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick