Published on the 24th of April, 2017
Orphaned elephant Kinna arrived at the Nairobi Nursery almost 17 years ago, as a one week old severely sunburnt baby from near Meru National Park in central Kenya. One ear was so sun damaged that despite our best efforts, the top finally died and fell away and since then, Kinna has always been very distinctive and easily recognizable even amidst the wild herds when grown.
We were therefore thrilled when on the 24th March 2017, Kinna made the momentous step in her wild life of having her very own baby, a little girl we named ‘Kama’. Earlier that morning, Kinna and Chyulu, Lenana, Naserian and Loijuk had not turned up to the stockades with the other Ex Orphans for lucerne, but the Keepers had assumed they were lagging behind. When they spotted this group with the young infant and her nannies surrounding her, there was sheer jubilation.
As Kinna drew closer to the stockade, she was welcomed with trumpets and bellowing from her friends. At the beginning, Lenana, Chyulu and Naserian provided heavy security and always surrounded the new baby, but over the next few weeks Yetu, Mwende, Loijuk and even little Wiva earned their spots as Kama’s permanent nannies.
She does not have as many nannies as usual as Kinna is a highly revered member of the herd, next to Yatta the matriarch, and she doesn’t hesitate to discipline any in the herd who misbehave. She has shown this trait since she first arrived at the nursery, a forceful character from the outset and inclined to be bossy. She has always had an outgoing character and has demonstrated to her human family that she is a good mother, who never allows her baby to wonder far and she always has an eye on her.
Kama has no special distinguishable features just yet, being very small just like Wiva when she was born, and has yet to show her true character traits. Now there is a new baby on the scene, the dynamic for the younger babies Wiva, now 18 months, and Gawa, only 7 months, has shifted slightly as well. Wiva and Mwende, Mulika’s baby who is 5 years old now, have taken on roles of guardianship whilst Gawa, who is still very young herself, has become more attached to her mother, rather unconcerned with the new arrival! Wiva used to try and nurse from Kinna before Kama was born, but now Kinna does not allow her anywhere near as all her milk in intended for her own baby.
The herd celebrated the birth of Kama by coming together as one unit, but this remained so for only a couple of days and since then they have split apart, some moving further away towards Tundani and not being seen for days at a time, migrating to areas three to four kilometres away where rain fell a few weeks ago and vegetation is flourishing. Galana separated with her baby Gawa and nannies Loijuk, Naserian, Lualeni, Ololoo and Sidai, whilst Kinna with newborn Kama, Lenana, Chyulu, Ithumbah, Mwende, Mulika, Yatta and the others stayed together as a herd. It is still very dry around Ithumba at the moment but the rains have begun and just yesterday some rain fell around the hill, a positive sign of what is yet to come.