Yatta's second wild born calf Yoyo

Published on the 31st of October, 2017

Nothing highlights the success of our Orphans’ Project quite like the birth of wild born babies to orphans raised by the Trust and now living wild

October 2017 proved to be a truly momentous month for us with Yatta, the matriarch of our wild living orphan herd at Ithumba, along with two of her adopted ‘sisters’ Sunyei and Nasalot, all giving birth to healthy calves, bringing the total count of our wild born babies to 28.

Of these 28, eight have been born close to the Ithumba stockades and we are delighted to witness the wild living orphan herds beginning to expand so naturally, and not only through the addition of orphans joining their ranks as they out-grow our reintegration units. These herds are slowly but surely morphing into a composition befitting a wild herd, including sisters, aunts, teenage calves and young babies.

All the orphan elephants in our care are rescued as milk dependent babies; we are with them 24 hours a day to provide for their needs, our keepers even sleeping with babies at our Nursery, as we act as their surrogate family. Our wild living orphans are elephants that have risen up the ranks of maturity and dependency to live a life in the wild once more.

Yatta was rescued at only one month old in September 1999, a victim of poaching as her mother was killed for her tusks in Tsavo East, just below the Yatta plateau. For a long time Yatta was troubled with weakness, periodic stiff joints and suffering complete collapses. After several huge doses of colloidal silver, glands in her neck became inflamed, and a huge hard abscess developed on the side of her face, which was unusually not tender to the touch. In time this softened and burst, after which the wound healed cleanly, and her problem vanished!

She grew in strength and eventually overcame the trauma of her loss with the help of her best friend Kinna, and in February 2001 it was decided that both of them would be moved to the Voi Reintegration Unit. After 2 successful years at the Voi Unit, Yatta was chosen to move to the new Ithumba Reintegration Unit, again with her friend Kinna, to support, guide and care for the younger orphans being translocated there from the Nairobi Nursery.

She was chosen because of her deep maternal instinct as well as her natural position as a leading matriarch and since her arrival at Ithumba, she has been a valuable and much loved mother, friend and tutor, successfully integrating with wild herds, whilst forming strong bonds with the orphans.

Eight years after graduating from our Nursery to Tsavo East National Park, she gave birth to her first calf, Yetu, in January 2012; a beautiful little girl and a wild addition to the growing Ex Orphan herd in Ithumba, with another Ex orphan Mulika having given birth to Mwende a year earlier.

On 7th October 2017 Yatta would add to the parental joy of her best friend Kinna, who had given birth to her first born Kama earlier in the year, when Yatta gave birth to her second calf. She returned to her former stockades and her human family so we could be a part of celebrating the arrival of her new baby, a healthy little boy who we named Yoyo.