Loijuk's Story

It always seems to happen on a Sunday, but never before have we had to cope with 2 orphaned elephant rescues on a quiet Sunday afternoon, which suddenly turned out to be anything but quiet! Since the failure of the November/December rains over most of the country, exacerbated by hotter than usual conditions, most of Kenya has been gripped by devastating drought conditions, its normally green pasture (at this time of the year) reduced to a desiccated and baked landscape. The drier than usual conditions have taken a terrible toll of all life, and not least the elephants, particularly those who have to eke out an existence in a naturally arid environment which yielded the latest two orphaned elephants to be brought into our Nairobi Nursery.

Loijuk's Story

Recently, we have been receiving orphaned rescue alerts on an almost daily basis – one in the Masai Mara made by a visitor on a mobile phone via our UK Office, where the orphan turned out to be probably 3 years old, and therefore stood a better chance being left in situ rather than undergoing the trauma of a rescue in a weakened condition; On the 15th January 2006 - that quiet afternoon mentioned above - two calls, and from opposite ends of the country – one from Tsavo West National Park where a baby elephant had been spotted, wandering all alone, in an emaciated and dehydrated condition, between Ziwani near the Tanzanian border, and Kitani in Tsavo West National Park and the other from Northern Kenya in Samburu tribal country, where an orphan had been spotted by tribesmen near a swamp called Loijuk.

With time not on our side, all the stops now had to be pulled out. The two rescue planes left Wilson Airport, each within minutes of one another, with Keepers, milk and rehydration salts and everything needed to rescue an elephant aboard.

The first to arrive in the Nairobi Nursery was the 7 – 8 month male calf from Ziwani, already named by the Rescuers as “Nkiito”, the Masai word for the quartz pebbles and stones which are profuse in this mineral rich area, and so abundant that they line every road. Little Nkiito was far too weak to put up much of a struggle, resigned to his fate, and quiet on arrival (too much so for comfort). Obviously grieving deeply for his lost elephant family, and severely dehydrated, he seemed relieved and happy to find himself in more comfortable surroundings where he was offered milk and rehydration fluid. Very rapidly he went downhill and sadly died two days later.

About half an hour later a 6 – 7 month old female baby arrived from a new conservancy established on the North bank of the Ewaso Niro River called the West Gate Conservation area. She was found abandoned close to a place called Loijuk, the name of an extensive wetland swamp. The tribesmen of this area are changing from being simply pastoral herdsmen of cattle, to caretakers of the natural environment, and they were delighted to welcome Robert Carr-Hartley, who arrived in the Rescue Plane, since most of them know Robert as a friend from his Safari Company operating in the area. It was very encouraging for him to learn how proud they were of their wildlife, including the little orphan they had just rescued and brought to the airfield, whom they had already named “Loijuk” after the beautiful seasonal swamp, currently parched and dry. She was found too all alone, in a weakened state, and so obviously an orphan, her mother probably having succumbed to the drought conditions. She had been cared for tenderly by the conservation area’s rangers immediately after the rescue, and then later made the 3 hour journey in the back of a land rover to the Samburu South Airstrip, the closest strip that could accommodate a Cessna Caravan aircraft.

Once back at the Nursery, things did not look promising at all, however the positive was that despite being desperately weak and emaciated she did take her milk. The next day was touch and go as her temperature plummeted, and her trunk became damp with liquid coming from her lungs, both behind her ears, and her trunk icy cold. We brought the other orphans to her, and immediately they tenderly wrapped their trunks around her, all of them terribly concerned about the little newcomer. This seemed to be all she required and her eyes immediately brightened and she began the fight to live. This beautiful gentle little girl surmounted enormous odds and was counted among our great successes.
Loijuk continued to thrive in the Nairobi Nursery and was moved to the Ithumba Stockades in 2007 with her friend Kenze. She too is now part of Yatta's ex-orphan herd who now call the area around Ithumba Hill home; a home in the wild.

Adopt Loijuk for yourself or as a gift.

Adopt Loijuk for yourself or as a gift.

Current Age

18 years old



Rescued date

15 January 2006

Rescue Location

Samburu, West Gate Conservancy

Date of Birth (approximate)

24 July 2005

Reason Orphaned

Drought related

Age at Rescue

5 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Loijuk'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 Loijuk the gift of life by adopting today.

Loijuk's Calves

Meet Loijuk's wild born offspring.



Lili is Loijuk's first wild born baby. We met her on the morning of Sunday 1st September 2019, after her mother gave birth to Lili close to our Ithumba Reintegration Unit and chose to bring Lili to meet the Keepers - her human family - and dependent orphans at Ithumba, so that they might all join in celebrating this new life. Read more



Loijuk's second baby debuted on 11th April 2023, when she was just hours old. We can't help but note how her arrival coincided with the sixth anniversary of Daphne Sheldrick's passing: As she always said, by saving the life of one orphan, we pave the way for generations of elephants. Lisha is an energetic, healthy young girl, fiercely protected by her big sister and nannies. Read more

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Loijuk's latest photos

Loijuk and Lisha

Loijuk, Lisha and Lili

Loijuk and Lili

Mundusi, Lili and Loijuk

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Loijuk browsing


Lualeni & Loijuk with their babies