Our Africa product manager Will has recently returned from a visit to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust just outside Nairobi in Kenya. While there he caught up with little Lemoyian, our sponsored baby elephant, who is about to be reintroduced into the wild.
The youngest elephants came out first, and it would take a hard heart not to be moved by these waist-high charmers.
Rescued from a well, our sponsored elephant Lemoyian is about to take his first steps back into the wild in Nairobi National Park, Kenya. He's been under the watchful care of the keepers at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a charity based in the park. Later this year, he'll be gradually encouraged to roam outside the sanctuary's walls but within the safety of the reserve.
Our Africa product manager Will paid Lemoyian a visit during a recent trip to Kenya and discovered an elephant with a mischievous streak and a definite Audley air about him.
"Nairobi’s urban jungle isn't the first place you might go looking for elephants, but you'll find the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in the city’s suburbs.
"This charity rescues orphaned elephants: those who’ve been abandoned, found stuck in swamps, or — like Lemoyian — those who fall down wells. It looks after them with the eventual goal of releasing them back into the wild.
"The Trust raises money by dedicating an hour a day when visitors can come and see the elephants frolic, feed and generally cause all sorts of mischief. I went to see how Lemoyian was getting on.
"The youngest elephants came out first, and it would take a hard heart not to be moved by these waist-high charmers. After a spot of milk and a chew on some branches, they got down to the serious business of squabbling and trying to get as much attention as possible.
"When the real youngsters had enjoyed their time in the spotlight, some of the slightly older elephants came out for a muck around, including Lemoyian. As soon as I saw him and his cheery demeanour, I felt there was something of the Audley spirit about him."
Lemoyian was rescued from a well on the Tanzania border. The villagers had tried to spear him but he was protected by one local until the rescuers arrived.
A ramp has now been installed in the well so no more elephants will get stuck.
Dennis and Eileen Wheatley travelled with us to South Africa and Kenya, and share their memories of visiting the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
"Our experience with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust began when we were in South Africa in 2009 and ended a great trip with a short safari break.
"One day, we were rewarded with the sight of elephant playtime. Mothers and children came into the clearing and began playing, seemingly oblivious of us.
"The babies behaved just like a group of children in a playgroup. They ran around, chasing, pushing, and bumping each other, sword fighting with their trunks, and if things got too rough, running to hide under mummy’s tummy.
"It was a wonderful experience, which we recounted to our grown-up son and gave him an idea for a Christmas present.
"That Christmas, my wife became the sponsor of an orphan elephant, called Kibo, recently rescued by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Like Lemoyian, he was rescued from a well. We travelled to Kenya the following year to meet Kibo.
"So valuable is the work of the Trust that our sponsorship has continued since then, even though Kibo has moved away from Nairobi to a larger unit run by the Trust at Ithumba. Here, the youngsters are gradually taught by older elephants how to live in the wild.
"We still get email updates on Kibo’s progress as well as news of the heart-rending stories behind the rescues of other orphan elephants. Sadly, the Trust is kept very busy but they do a wonderful and very important job."
About the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a charity based in Nairobi National Park that rehabilitates orphaned elephants and black rhinos. The keepers spend 24 hours a day with the orphans, not only feeding and playing with them but also staying in their enclosure overnight.
Each day between 11am and 12 noon, the Trust opens to the public. You can watch the elephants and rhinos being fed and see them take their daily mud bath.
Visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust website
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