Lualeni's Story

She was seen sleeping under the shade of a tree, all alone, in Hilton Hotels Taita Hills Sanctuary, with no other elephants nearby, and since she was only about 4 months old, she was obviously an orphan doomed to die with no chance of survival without her mother’s milk in a wild situation. The staff of the Sanctuary watched the calf for a full day as she tried to join other herds but was each time left behind as the herds moved off. They could see that she was already losing strength and would be lost to predators unless rescued, and was quite obviously an orphan.

Lualeni's Story

The Taita Hills Sanctuary was once part of private land known as Lualeni Ranch, originally owned by a Briton. However, when the original owner died, Hilton Hotels International purchased 28,000 acres as a tourist venue for their clientele.Successfully reintegrated into the wild at the Ithumba stockades, she takes great delight in teaching other orphans to follow after her, and has even taking to opening the gate at night with her trunk to let them out!

The Sanctuary lies South East of the Taita Hills, accessed off the road between Voi and the Kenya/Tanzanian border town of Taveta. Its Western boundary abuts Tsavo West National Park, its Northern Boundary privately owned ranchlands abutting Tsavo East National Park and its Southern Boundary, what is left of the original Lualeni Ranch, now occupied by tribesmen and their livestock. Hilton Hotels constructed two large tourist lodges within the Sanctuary, one, named Taita Hills Lodge and a second called Salt Lick Lodge. Taita Hills lodge is modelled on a German Fort, commemorating the fighting that took place in this part of the world during the First World War between the British, who were Colonizers of Kenya, and Germans, colonizers of what used to be Tanganyika, fighting under the command of the legendary General von Lettow Vorbeck who was never defeated. Some famous battles took place here, notably The Battle of Salaita Hill, which resulted in two Victoria Cross Medals for the British, the highest award for outstanding gallantry usually given posthumously. One such VC holder is buried in the War Cemetry in Voi. The second lodge within the Sanctuary is Salt Lick Lodge, comprised of a series of rondavels on stilts overlooking a swampy area of the Bura river which is a popular venue for wild animals, both large and small. Another tourist feature of the Sanctuary is the James Stewart River House, overlooking a series of beautiful pools on the upper reaches of the Bura river, and so named in honour of the famous actor, James Stewart, who starred in “A tale of Africa” funded by the Japanese and filmed by Simon Trevor in the late seventies and early eighties. This house serves as a barbecue venue for group functions and tourists staying at the two Hilton Lodges.

At one time the wildlife within the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary enjoyed tight security, but, unhappily, in recent times, the Sanctuary has been somewhat neglected and subjected to rampant bush-meat poaching through the setting of wire snares. The elephants who move through the Sanctuary periodically on migration between Tsavo West and East are now very much at risk due to this rampant bush-meat trade (a living example being our orphan “Burra” who was almost strangled by a wire noose) and also due to the inevitable human/wildlife conflict brought about by the presence of a burgeoning human population on ancient traditional migration routes between the two Tsavo's and neighbouring ranch-lands.

Our Elephant Keepers and Mobile Veterinary Unit were mobilized, and little “Lualeni” was rescued in the evening of Saturday 27th November, without a struggle, simply happy to be offered rehydration and a bottle of milk. She was loaded into the back of the Trust’s pickup and taken to the Voi Stockades for the night, since it was too late to fly her to the Nursery that day. At the Stockades, immediately she was welcomed by the older orphans, Icholta and Natumi being her little mothers for the night, since Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally are no longer in the Stockades at night, but free to roam outside, usually turning up in the morning to join the other orphans, or meeting up with them out in the bush. (Emily and Aitong, our two older “Matriarchs”, now want to be out and about at night, and since Sweet Sally is inseparable from Aitong, she is outside as well. We tried to encourage Loisaba to keep Emily company, but she was having none of it!)

And so, little Lualeni spent the night cosseted by the older group, and was flown to the Nairobi Nursery the following day, arriving at lunch time. She seemed to show no resistence from the onset and was happy to take milk from a bottle, and following the Keepers as she would her mother. However, she was very tired, and slept a lot that first day and night. The next morning, the eight Nursery elephants came in a group to meet her, and immediately Sunyei decided that this was going to be her special baby. However despite the best efforts from all the other orphans, it took Lualeni months to begin to play and become a happy elephant again. In fact she was dull for so long that we worried that maybe she was brain damaged slightly. The transformation came overnight but about four months after her rescue. She suddenly began to have a bounce in her step and play and mix normally with the others and forget the horrendous circumstances around her being orphaned.

Successfully reintegrated into the wild at the Ithumba stockades, she takes great delight in teaching other orphans to follow after her, and has even taking to opening the gate at night with her trunk to let them out!


Adopt Lualeni for yourself or as a gift for a loved one.

Important Note: Thank you for adopting and being part of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust family. It is important to note that your donation will help any orphan in need. Our orphans will need more than one adoptive parent.

Adopt Lualeni for yourself or as a gift for a loved one.

Important Note: Thank you for adopting and being part of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust family. It is important to note that your donation will help any orphan in need. Our orphans will need more than one adoptive parent.

Current age

15 years old

Gender

Female

Rescued date

27 November 2004

Rescue Location

Tsavo Ecosystem, Taita Ranches

Date of Birth (approximate)

29 July 2004

Reason Orphaned

Poaching

Age at Rescue

3 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Lualeni's featured photos

Our digital adoption programme includes the following:

Personalised adoption certificate.

Monthly email update on your orphan and the project.

Monthly water colour by Angela Sheldrick.

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

Give Lualeni the gift of life by adopting today.

Lualeni's Calves

Meet Lualeni's wild born offspring.

Lulu

Female

Lulu is Lualeni's first wild born calf. We met her for the first time just hours after her birth when Lualeni brought her to the Ithumba Reintegration Unit under the cover of darkness. Lulu's nannies are Chyulu and Lenana who are on hand to ensure this little calf grows up happy, healthy and surrounded by love.

Latest updates featuring Lualeni

Updates: Lualeni gives birth to our 30th wild born baby

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Updates: Ukame, Galla and Wanjala move to Ithumba

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Updates: Wild living orphan Kinna has her first wild born baby, Kama

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Lualeni's Latest Photos

Sana Sana greeting Lulu who is standing near her mum Lualeni.

Lualeni and her group coming for water

Lualeni, baby Lulu and Malkia

Lualeni and her baby Lulu

Lualeni and her baby Lulu dusting

Lualeni and Lulu at the entrance

Lualeni's herd with baby Lulu

Lualeni and Lulu