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 Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya move to Tsavo on the 29th April - 5/1/2009
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The 29th April 2009 was a very important day in the lives of three precious Nursery elephants, LESANJU (long-time Mini Matriarch of the Nursery), mischievous LEMPAUTE whose impish personality has won the hearts of all who have known her, and SINYA, three of the oldest females in our Nairobi Nursery.   LESANJU was just 3 weeks old when she was retrieved from a well in the Milgis Lugga at the beginning of September 2006, as was LEMPAUTE when she was found wandering all alone by tribesmen in the Samburu West Gate National Reserve.   SINYA was a victim of a rocky Meerschaum well at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Masai tribal lands, the first of 3 subsequent casualties from the same well, which thankfully now is protected by a low wall built by the Amboseli Elephant Trust.   We will never forget how stalwart and brave SINYA was during the months of painful treatment on her back needed to heal horrendous wounds that turned  the surface skin necrotic, which had to be laboriously pared away leaving massively infected raw flesh beneath.   From SINYA we learnt a great deal about how to treat such wounds using the miraculous healing powers of Green Clay and essential oils against infection.  

Sinya going to the lorry  Reaching the Voi entrance gate.jpg

Sinya disembarks at Voi.  Shimba greets Sinya in Voi


The others, Shimba, Wassessa, Siria and Mzima hurry to meet their friends.

It is always an emotional moment bidding farewell to beloved Nursery inmates as they embark on the next important phase of life’s perilous journey to return them where they rightly belong.  It was time for them to be moved to Tsavo, the Voi reintroduction Unit where Shimba, MZIMA, SIRIA and Wassesa were moved a couple of months previously.  This is by no means a goodbye, just the next phase, as they will still be milk dependent for another two years, and Keeper dependent before having the confidence to stay with the wild herds until they are between 8 -10 years old.   We anticipated problems loading LEMPAUTE, because whereas LESANJU and SINYA willingly went into the parked vehicles at the Nairobi Loading Bay, LEMPAUTE would have none of it, obviously associating them with the disappearance of many older loved ones during the almost 3 years she had been at the Nursery.   But, when the time came, she resigned herself to the inevitable, and although a bit of pushing and shoving from behind was needed, never once did she resist aggressively.    It always surprises us how extremely gentle and trusting they are of their Keepers despite their power which they could certainly use to flatten any assailant should they wish to do so.   None of our elephants ever have, irrespective of how nervous and frightened they are about the impending journey.

Next it is Lempaute's turn to disembark.  Lemapute too is greeted warmly by Shimba

Lesanju inspects her new surroundings

The firm friends find each other again  They all have a feed

Lesanju enjoys her first milk feed in Voi

The trucks pulled out at 5.30 a.m. on Wednesday morning of the 29th April.   Only SINYA was restless on the road, but an exchange of Keepers to reassure her that she had many friends with her calmed her down again, and the rest of the journey went smoothly, fortunately managing to escape the gridlock traffic that has become a feature of Nairobi’s suburbs at rush our.   Joseph Sauni, the Head Keeper at the Voi Stockades was warned of the newcomers impending arrival as the trucks reached the Manyani Entrance to Tsavo East National Park, so that he could arrange for WASESSA, Shimba, MZIMA and SIRIA to be on hand to greet their little friends from the Nursery.   LESANJU, LEMPAUTE and SINYA had scoured the bushes for days searching for the four on the day that they were spirited away on an early morning a month or two ago, so we anticipated a very joyful reunion, and were not disappointed.  

After the hot journey Lesanju cannot resist getting inside the water trough.

The orphans enjoy a mudbath to cool down.  Siria close to Sinya.

They enjoy themselves enormously.  Lesanju very early on starts exterting her dominence.

Recognition was instant.   LEMPAUTE was first out, looking somewhat confused until she spotted her four friends, who hurried forward to greet her.   SINYA was next out, likewise greeted with enormous enthusiasm, and lastly came LESANJU, who after the greetings set about re-establishing her authority over them all.   WASESSA appeared relieved to hand over responsibility, while Shimba detached himself from the melee, always a mellow and quiet little elephant who would rather not become embroiled in “female stuff”.   SIRIA and MZIMA were interested onlookers, until the hierarchy had been established and then all took a long cooling drink at the Stockade trough, LESANJU actually climbing right in! 

The orphans now in Voi heading into the bush for the day  They leave the stockades to head out into the bush for the rest of the day.

The others, Shimba, Siria and Mzima and Wasessa show the newcomers the ropes.

Lesanju leads the way despite being in a totally new environment.  They find themselves in real elephant country.

Our orphans unit with the wild elephants behind.

A waterhole this size is a totally new experience for Lemapute, Sinya and Lesanju.  Having fun in the mud.

Its not long before the orphans group come across their first wild elephants.  Robert Carr-Hartley Angela's husband, with the girls Lesanju and Lempaute.

Having inspected their new surroundings, escorted around by the four established elephants, all headed to a lovely red mudbath prepared for them near the Stockades before heading out into the bush to visit the large Red Waterhole below the Park Headquarters, which during the wet season provides a beautiful swimming pool for all elephants.  En route the orphans encountered a wild herd on this, their first outing in Tsavo, and this unsettled LEMPAUTE, who was orphaned too young to have any recollection of her wild mother or family, and who was also nervous of the honking of the hornbills, a sound of which she was not familiar!   However, despite any reservations, all thoroughly enjoyed a real natural waterhole and were soon immersed within.   After a swim, they loved plastering themselves with Tsavo’s red laterite soil, and rubbing themselves against the ochre-red banks.   It was a day that LESANJU, LEMPAUTE and SINYA will never forget, and a touching reunion with loved ones they thought they had lost forever.

Moving up towards the stockades.  Heading back to the stockades in the evening.

In the stockades for the night.

The group feeding on the hill the next morning.


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