Updated: Jun 19, 2021
These elephants don’t know anywhere else as home. All of them have a story. Orphaning of elephants happens for many reasons. Some are abandoned at birth because they are born premature. Others are severely sick or injured when they are very young, hence being abandoned. And there are those that are too weak to walk especially in the drought season and cannot keep up with the herd. Others fall into the hand dug wells and the herd doesn’t come back for them. And sadly, some of them are victims of poaching. Poachers kill the mothers and the herds take off to safety, leaving the baby behind.
All these babies, in Northern Kenya, end up at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. This is the place they will call home until the day they are old and strong enough to be released back into the wild. They are closely monitored to see that they integrate well with other elephants in the wild. Dedicated Reteti’s keepers take care of them day and night. Reteti is now the first sanctuary with female keepers taking care of the baby eles. Their motherly instincts are of great value. You see the dedication of the team from the specific weighing of the milk formula, each unique to the baby and their needs. They also demonstrate kindness and nurturing in the way the babies interact and play.
Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is one of a kind. It is a community-owned and run initiative. The Samburu and community members call whenever they find a baby elephant, and this helps in rescues being done promptly. There is sustainability created in the community by creating employment and now Samburu women can work in equal capacity as men.
In addition, Sarara and Reteti have now established a Mobile Montessori Education Centers. The communities are pastoralists and move with the livestock. By establishing mobile schools, the school educates children in their early years and can continue as their livestock moves with the pasture grazing.
Supporting Reteti goes a long way. Ashe Oleng (Thank you in Samburu). This post is written by Elephant Cooperation’s Field Team Member, Suzzi Helfer, as a reflection on her first to Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.