Aitong's Story

Aitong is an elephant from the Masai Mara population of elephants, orphaned early in November 1994 when she was approximately just 2 weeks old. She takes her name from the area where she was found staggering around in circles having obviously suffered a head injury, probably during a stampede when her family fled from poachers. When first seen, she was still surrounded by her confused elephant family who for the next three days desperately tried to get the brain damaged infant, who could only walk in circles, to follow. In the end, they had to give up and leave her, by which time she was in a near dead state of total collapse. Fortunately, it was a Veterinarian who rescued her and who was able to administer rehydration through a tube inserted down her throat directly into her stomach, which undoubtedly saved her life.

Aitong's Story

She was flown back to the Nairobi Nursery, and for many weeks precariously hovered between life and death, still only able to walk in tight circles. We feared that she would never recover, and, would end up having to be euthenased. Indeed, there was one night when she almost died, but again was saved by the insertion of a pipe directly to the stomach by the same Vet who rescued her. Weeks turned into months, and slowly and painfully Aitong began to recover, initially learning to walk straight by holding onto Imenti’s tail, so that she could follow the other Nursery elephants. Their patience, care of her, and sympathetic understanding undoubtedly contributed towards her final recovery.

Aitong was a very caring “Nannie” who assisted “Emily”, the Senior Matriarch of the Voi orphaned unit. As Emily’s Nannie, Aitong was extremely caring of each and every member of the group, usually the first to rush to the rescue of any who need help and the one who kept the peace by separating sparring young bulls. She was out-going and comfortable socializing with the wild herds, with a particular attraction for handsome bulls! One of her longstanding “boyfriends” was Edo, an orphan from Amboseli, who was seen to cohabit with her on many occasions and when he did the same to Emily, elicited Aitong’s jealousy! Her greatest love, however, was a young female originally from Sweetwaters Ranch, named “Sweet Sally”, who could be likened to her shadow, and firmly refused to be separated when both Aitong and Emily were of an age when they no longer needed to be enclosed in the Night Stockades during the hours of darkness; large enough to take care of themselves and not end up a meal for a lion.
The three now totally “wild” orphans form what is referred to as “Emily’s group” in the monthly Keepers’ Diaries. However, they remain in close touch with the younger still dependent orphans. In the old days, Emily, Aitong and Sally used to wait outside the Stockade Gates first thing in the morning to accompany the others out into the bush, and also escort them back to the Stockades in the evenings before leaving for a night out. Whenever they met up with the youngsters, Emily was still viewed as Leader and Aitong next in seniority.
Nowadays Emily's herd chooses to spend time away with their wild friends further afield, and are therefore absent for several weeks or months at a time, but they return to make contact with the dependent orphans whenever they happen to be in the area; either at the stockades, out in the bush, or at the noon mud bath. Whenever they are reunited, there is tremendous excitement and outpouring of love in a full-blown elephant welcome. We believe that all the Trust’s orphans will retain these family bonds for life, having grown up as a family, even though each and every one comes from a different part of Kenya, and even further afield.

Aitong turned into a wonderfully caring elephant who could always be relied upon to come to the help of others in trouble, the adored mother figure to Sweet Sally. Although we have not seen her for some years now since she left Emily's herd, we are confident she is enjoying a wonderful life out in the wild where she belongs, with her wild friends and family.

Adopt Aitong for yourself or as a gift.

Important Note: Thank you for considering an adoption. Each orphan needs more than one foster parent: your adoption donation will be processed by the SWT UK and Kenya to help all the orphans in our care.

Adopt Aitong for yourself or as a gift.

Important Note: Thank you for considering an adoption. Each orphan needs more than one foster parent: your adoption donation will be processed by the SWT UK and Kenya to help all the orphans in our care.

Current Age

29 years old



Rescued date

1 November 1994

Rescue Location

Maasai Mara, Aitong

Date of Birth (approximate)

1 November 1994

Reason Orphaned


Age at Rescue

0 weeks old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Aitong's featured photos

Our digital adoption programme includes the following:

Personalised adoption certificate.

Monthly email update on your orphan and the project.

Monthly watercolour by Angela Sheldrick.

Access to special content; latest Keepers' Diaries, videos and photos

Give Aitong the gift of life by adopting today.

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Aitong's latest photos

A keeper monitoring Aitong's group

Aitong, Tsavo, weetsally and morani drinking wat

Aitong at a waterhole

Aitong & Moran

Aitong takes a little rest

Aitong, Laikipia and a wild boy

Aitong feeding

Salama and Aitong