It had been less than 24 hours after her arrival into this world that little Lulu was escorted by her mama, lit by the soft “glow of a waning moon,” onto Lualeni‘s old stomping grounds at the DSWT “Ithumba stockade”.
As other former orphaned elephants raised by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust had done before her, Lualeni returned with her newborn, this the 30th known wild born baby elephant, as if to say ‘thank you, for giving me the opportunity to live and to raise a family of my own’.
A new elephant life is precious and, as such, the birth an occasion to be celebrated. And what better way to celebrate than to be among those you love, both elephant & human friends!
(All the more heartwarming was Lualeni‘s joy and pride at becoming a new mother, especially felt among the DSWT keepers & staff who will never forget the depths of the former orphaned elephant’s grief & despair.)
The Story of Lulu’s Mother (a Synopsis)
Lualeni was a vulnerable little four-month-old elephant calf when the Hilton-owned Taita Hills Sanctuary*** staff spotted the solitary baby elephant in the shadows of a tree, asleep on her side. The humans knew this tiny pachyderm would not have long to live if she were not accepted back into a wild elephant herd, finding a new elephant mother to nurse her back to health.
***a portion of the land had once been privately held & named Lualeni Ranch, hence the orphaned elephant’s name.
But despite a full day’s effort in attempting to join a new elephant family Lualeni was unsuccessful. It was then that the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was called in to rescue the malnourished, weakened & abandoned little African elephant calf.
Upon her rescue this sweet elephant was so obviously completely distressed over the loss of her mother and it continued to no end. “In fact she was dull for so long that we worried that maybe she was slightly brain damaged.” It would take another four months before little Lualeni‘s fighting spirit (giving her the will to live) would help her rise out of the depths of her despair. That and the continued coaxing by her stable mates, orphaned baby elephants who shared a similar experience as well.
The DSWT had never witnessed such a deep grief in an elephant before, especially a baby elephant so tender and small. (And they hope they never witness a baby elephant grieving so deeply for the loss of its mother ever again.)
But joy finally came back into Lualeni‘s life, The joy came as mysteriously as the grief disappeared; It was that sudden. This after months that the orphaned baby elephant had spent isolating herself from even her newest elephant friends. A “happy elephant” had finally emerged, to the relief of all.
Lualeni’s rescue & story: “Her heartbreak is well documented” in BBC Films Elephant Diaries S02 E01 as they were filming with the DSWT at this time.
Over the years Lualeni grew up and made her way back into the wild as other former DSWT orphaned elephants had done before her. And as her former DSWT female elephant stable mates had done before her as well, Lualeni returned with her wild born baby (the 30th known to the DSWT) girl presenting the tiny elephant as if a gift. But this gift was all hers to keep and cherish as a new mother elephant. May she never face the fate of her own elephant mama who was forever lost (to suspected poachers) from her young calf.
There is no elephant more deserving of joy and the joy of elephant motherhood at this moment than Lualeni.
Welcome to the world sweet elephant baby girl!
Lulu (daughter of Lualeni) born on 27 September 2018.
Despite elephant conservation efforts, we worry, still.
See photos taken of Lulu the wild born baby elephant shortly after birth at DSWT
Image: CC Flickr: elephant drawing by marthacbrauer
Lualeni photo gallery
Watch YouTube Video BBC Films Elephant Diaries S02 E01