Lominyek's Story

This young bull was about 14 months old when he became an orphan and was brought into the Nairobi Nursery on 12th July 1996. This means that he was born in approximately April 1995 in the Samburu National Reserve. His name means “The Lucky One” in the Samburu tribal dialect and lucky to be alive today he is, for his mother was a casualty of Shifta poachers’ gunfire. She was found dying, her body literally riddled with gunshot wounds, so she was euthenazed by a KWS Vet, and her calf, who also had a gunshot wound in the leg, was sedated and flown to the Nairobi Nursery for treatment and care. Fortunately, an X-ray of the leg indicated that no bullet was still actually lodged in the leg.

Lominyek's Story

After recovering consciousness upon arrival in the Nursery, he was terrified by the presence in his stable of a human Keeper, who had to vault with alacrity over the dividing partition in double quick time. Two other baby elephant Nursery inmates were brought into his stable to calm him, and this they did, almost immediately. All three calves were then let out, but as soon as Lominyek saw the Keepers, he fled in terror, leaving his blanket draped on the rocks. Immediately, the other two calves raced after him, and the Keepers after them! When they eventually managed to catch up with him, the Keepers kept their distance, and simply followed behind whilst the other two Nursery inmates slowly steered Lominyek back to base. Astonishingly, by noon that day, when the public come to view the orphaned elephants, they had managed to impart the message that the humans that now surrounded him were friends, for he mingled quietly with all the visitors, greeting them hesitantly, and showing no sign of aggression, just a little apprehension indicated by the attitude of the ears. We found this extraordinary in view of his background and his age, for he was old enough to understand exactly who had killed his mother, and had grown up in an area where all elephants view humans as “the enemy”. The story of Lominyek simply reinforces what we have now come to understand and that is that elephants are capable of passing a very sophisticated message to one another. Without the input of the established two elephant orphans, it would have been incredibly difficult to handle a wild and severely traumatized calf of Lominyek’s age.

Once his leg wound had healed, he was moved down to Tsavo together with little Zoe where he slotted into the older orphaned group, which was then under the Leadership of “Malaika”. However, he never enjoyed the “favourite calf” status he craved, since that position was occupied by one smaller, namely “Lewa”. Feeling insecure, he kept pressing up close to Malaika, usurping the place of Lewa, and she kept pushing him away by prodding him gently with her tusks.

When he had past his second birthday, he happened upon a more accommodating wild Matriarch, and, moreover, one that was tuskless, who could not prod him! Instantly, he adopted this herd, who gladly took him in, and because he was used to being part of an elephant family, he was happy to remain. Thereafter, when the Keepers escorting the other orphans out in the bush met up with him, which they often did, he greeted them fondly as friends, but never showed any inclination to leave his adopted family and rejoin the orphaned unit. Lonimyek is therefore one of our most successful orphans, since he was dependent upon us for just 6 months. His story is particularly poignant since he was so forgiving of humans knowing that they had killed his beloved mother and in the process also wounded him and deprived him of his own loving elephant family. Today he is a fully established member of the wild Tsavo East elephant community and his Samburu birthplace must simply be a distant and unhappy memory.

Adopt Lominyek for yourself or as a gift.

Adopt Lominyek for yourself or as a gift.

Current Age

29 years old



Rescued date

12 July 1996

Rescue Location

Samburu, Samburu National Reserve

Date of Birth (approximate)

1 April 1995

Reason Orphaned


Age at Rescue

15 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Lominyek's featured photos

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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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