ALIVE AND WELL

Four hand-reared jumbos released to the new home

The elephants are aged between three and four years.

In Summary

 

• This is the third elephant release from the community-run sanctuary to Sera Rhino Sanctuary, which was selected for its proximity.

• The sanctuary said KWS scientists completed an ecological assessment of the area and determined that the conditions were optimal for the reintroduction.

A female elephant and her calf graze around Maasai Mara National Reserve on May 12, 2018. /CONSOLATA MAKOKHA
A female elephant and her calf graze around Maasai Mara National Reserve on May 12, 2018. /CONSOLATA MAKOKHA

Four hand-reared elephants have successfully been released into their new home in Sera Community Wildlife Conservancy.

Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, Samburu, said the four are named Loisaba, Baawa, Lchurai and Nadasoit.

This is the third elephant release from the community-run sanctuary to Sera Rhino Sanctuary, which was selected for its proximity.

Sera is a few hours from Reteti and has a perimeter fence that keeps at bay large predators such as lions, and an enhanced security team comprising of Kenya Wildlife Service rangers and community scouts.

The sanctuary said KWS scientists completed an ecological assessment of the area and determined that the conditions were optimal for the reintroduction.

It said the recent rains have provided a variety of forage and surface water as well as full waterholes for the four elephants.

“This brings us to a total of 10 successfully released calves from Reteti,” Reteti manager Moses Lenaipa says.

“As the larger Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, we are thrilled to share this with the country and the world. We are the only community-owned and managed elephant sanctuary in Kenya, established in 2016."

"So, at barely three and a half years old, we feel really proud of what the sanctuary has achieved in the rescue and release of orphaned elephant calves,” Lenaipa added.

 

The elephants are aged between three and four years.

In the buildup to the move, the elephants were familiarised with their travel crate, and fitted with GPS tracking collars in partnership with Save the Elephants and KWS, who developed the post-release monitoring strategy.

This will enable the monitoring and documentation of the elephants’ health, safety, and integration.

“KWS is proud of its veterinary team in Laikipia who, working with Reteti team, ensured the calves were rescued in the most humane and professional manner, given the required medical care and ensured they were nurtured with the highest animal welfare standards while in the captive facility," assistant director Mountain Conservation Area, Simon Gitau, said.

“ Like we did with the first two, we will keenly monitor the latest quartet released back into the wild to keep learning and in so doing, continuously improve the welfare of the elephants and the rewilding process,”  Antony Wandera, senior Research and Monitoring officer at Northern Rangelands Trust, said.

Baawa,3.5 years old, was rescued from Nga’bolo, where he was found abandoned and stuck in the mud at only a few months old.

Loisaba, almost four years now, was found on a routine ground patrol by Loisaba Conservancy rangers. Orphaned because of the tough drought at the time, he was malnourished and found wandering alone. 

Lchurai, another victim of drought, was found in the Lchurai area of Laikipia. She arrived at Reteti stressed and traumatised. She developed a bond with Mpala, another orphan who has already been released to Sera, and is now more confident and playful. She is now almost four years old.

The fourth is Nadasoit, who arrived at Reteti at only a few weeks old. She was rescued from  a community well at Namunyak (Kalepo) Community Conservancy.

“Nadasoit, Bawa, Lchurai and Loisaba all arrived at Reteti in some sort of critical state, either physically or emotionally. Together, the Reteti team and the Namunyak community raised them up with care and love up to the point where they are ready to go back into the wild," Naomi Leshonguro, one of longest-standing keepers at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary and the first woman elephant keeper in Kenya, said.

Previously, young bull elephants Warges, Lingwezi and Sosian were re-introduced to the wild in May 2019, followed by Shaba, Pokot and Mpala in November 2019.

They are all spending time with wild herds in the area and living without any human contact at all.

“From our tracking data from the elephants released in 2019, we can see that the orphans are increasingly integrating with wild elephants. The data shows their range overlaps with wild elephants with whom they share water points and are often in close contact."

"We are pleased with the progress of the orphans and look forward to watching them grow to mature males and females and eventually freed from the fenced environment of Sera Rhino Sanctuary to be truly wild,” David Daballen, Head of Field Operations at Save The Elephants, said.

Edited by EKibii