It has been 14 years since this momma elephant was rescued from the wild as an orphaned calf—and now, she has returned many years later so she can introduce her own baby to the humans who saved her.
Loijuk was only 5 months when rescuers from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) found her stranded in an arid, drought-stricken region of northern Kenya. After nursing her back to health, the happy pachyderm spent her adolescence surrounded by an adopted herd of other orphaned and rescued elephants just like her.
Though Loijuk now lives in the wild, she often returns to the SWT’s Ithumba Stockades so she can visit her human caregivers.
Loijuk’s most recent visit on September 1st, however, marked a very special occasion: she had just given birth to a female calf and she wanted to introduce the baby to the SWT rescuers.
“It is so special to witness Loijuk welcome and encourage the interaction, inviting head Keeper Benjamin to enjoy her newborn baby, unperturbed by their shenanigans together, and to immediately see the joy this new life brings the whole Ithumba Unit of dependent orphans and ex-orphan’s alike,” writes the SWT staffers.
“Watching her heal, flourish and transition to a wild independent life again in the span of 14 years, surrounded by ex-orphans and wild elephant friends, and now to see her transform into a mother is the ultimate affirmation of a job well done.”
The calf, which has been named Lili, is the 31st recorded offspring born to a rescued SWT elephant. Since it is currently the dry season in Kenya, Loijuk has stayed close to the wildlife shelter so she and her calf can enjoy extra support from the human rescuers until the weather cools off.
Photo by Sheldrick Wildlife Trust