Edo's Story

The elephants of Amboseli National Park, a population of just over 1,000, have been the subject of an in-depth Scientific behavioural study for over 28 years, in which the life of the different family groups, the birth of their babies, and any deaths, are closely monitored and recorded. This has been a very important Scientific study, which has illustrated the very human aspect and emotions of the elephants, something the Scientific community previously resisted acknowledging, for to do so would label them as 'anthropomorphic' in other words, only humans have been so endowed. Another important factor that makes the Amboseli population of elephants unique is that it is the only elephant population on the entire African Continent that has not been fragmented by poaching for the Ivory Trade. In Amboseli, magnificent high ranking bulls over 50 years in age, carrying huge tusks still exist, as do elderly Matriarchs who are grandmothers and even great grandmothers with intact family units to illustrate natural behaviour patterns not seen elsewhere.

Edo's Story

Our orphan Edo is the son of an Amboseli cow called 'Emily', the elder sister to the now famous 'Echo', the star of many books and films. 'Emily' was the Matriarch of the unit known for Scientific purposes as 'The E Group', but sadly she died as a result of foraging in the rubbish pit of a nearby Safari Lodge, and in amongst the peelings of fruit and vegetables, which were the draw in the first place, were bottle-tops, broken glass, torch cells and even an ash-tray, all of which she ingested, and were revealed in amongst the stomach contents during a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death. Edo, her calf, was 6 months at the time, having been born in March 1989.

It so happened that a Japanese Film Unit were filming the E Group of elephants for a documentary at the time, perhaps having chosen this particular unit because of the name Edo, the name of an ancient Japanese capital city. Elephant Edo was a particularly playful baby, and the main subject of their film, so they were dismayed and perplexed to suddenly find him minus a mother, but still with the E group, though visibly not himself, being despondent and clearly unhappy. Although his mother Emily used to allow Echo's baby access to her milk, Echo would not allow Edo to suckle her, and since at 6 months he was still fully milk dependent. As the days past, he became ever more weak, lagging behind the family and spending a lot of time lying down to rest. Since Amboseli Park is well watered with numerous swamps, fortunately he had access to water, and he tried to ease the pangs of hunger by swallowing what vegetation he could, but he was far too young to be able to digest it. Clearly, he was doomed to die gradually of milk deprivation, and had it not been for the presence of the Japanese Film Unit, he would probably have become another number amongst other scientifically recorded deaths and a statistic of the Scientific Study. Fortunately, however, the Japanese Film Unit needed a better ending to their story, so we were alerted to attempt a rescue, the first ever undertaken of an Amboseli orphan. Present in our Nairobi Nursery at the time were 5 other infant elephant orphans, namely Olmeg, Taru, Dika, Ndume and Malaika.

Daphne's daughter, Jill, set forth in the Trust's then one and only vehicle, a small Renault 4 kindly donated by Jill's French other-half. With the help of the Researchers, they managed to locate the E family of elephants, and found 6 month old Edo asleep way behind the herd. Since he was so starved he was sufficiently feeble to be over-powered and lifted into the covered back of the Renault 4, ready for the journey back to Nairobi. However, when they were just a stone's throw from the Amboseli Headquarters, he broke out of the back door, and immediately headed off back from whence they had come. Fearing that he would be taken by predators during the night, everyone was very relieved the next day to find him back with his E family. However, Jill had to wait a few more days, until he was in a virtual state of collapse, before risking the journey back to Nairobi on the main Nairobi-Mombasa road. It was in that condition that he arrived at the Nairobi Nursery at noon.
He was lifted out of the car, and collapsed in a heap on the ground, apparently too weak to even stand. Clearly, he no longer had even the will to try and live, so we sent for the other orphans, who surrounded him. Dika touched his face gently with a trunk, and then a miracle took place before our very eyes - Edo opened glazed eyes, and a spark of recognition ignited them. We offered Dika a bottle of milk, which he downed gratefully, then another, and another, watched all the while by Edo. With the help of the Keepers Edo was then lifted to his feet, and like Dika, offered a bottle of milk, which he drank hungrily and gratefully. In all, he took 6 pints straight off, and would have liked more, but we knew that this would be dangerous on a starved stomach. He was nevertheless visibly much stronger, and calmly accompanied the other orphans to their noon mud bath.
Amazingly, Edo had no fear of the humans, having been used to the attentions of the monitoring Scientists ever since birth. He watched the other orphans romping in the mud bath, and playing with the football, and although he did not want to be part of such frivolity, he merely stood aside and made no attempt to escape. From that day on Edo, never looked back, and very soon was again the playful youngster of yore, completing his infancy in the Nursery along with his peers, and eventually moving with them to begin the re-integration back into the Tsavo East elephant population, as do all our orphans.
Today, in the year 2005, Edo is established within that wild population, a handsome 16 year old teenager, who periodically returns to greet the still dependent orphans and their Keepers, but spends months at a time away. He is particularly fond of Emily and Aitong, and, indeed, has mated both these young cows on several occasions, but then, so have other wild male admirers, as well as orphans Ndume and Dika, so the paternity of any offspring born to them will always be in doubt. Our bet is that the father of their babies will be one of their wild admirers, rather than any of our ex-orphans, because having grown up together, Emily and Aitong view Edo and the others more as brothers, than lovers!

Adopt Edo for yourself or as a gift.

Adopt Edo for yourself or as a gift.

Current Age

35 years old



Rescued date

15 September 1989

Rescue Location

Amboseli Ecosystem, Amboseli National Park

Date of Birth (approximate)

1 March 1989

Reason Orphaned

Human-Wildlife Conflict

Age at Rescue

6 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Edo'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

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Latest updates featuring Edo

Reunited with Ndume

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Edo Returns

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Ndume visits again after a long absence

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Edo's latest photos

Edo relaxing at the stockades

Edo browsing at the stockades


Edo visits the stockade

Edo one of the big boys

The babies follow Edo

Dika and Edo visit the orphans up at the stockade

Edo holds Loisaba