Today marks another special day as Loijuk, a 14-year-old elephant, decided to return to the SWT Ithumba stockades to give birth to her first calf in the wild. She was accompanied by her caretakers, Naserian and Ithumbah, who protected her throughout the birthing process. The little calf was born on Sunday, September 1st, in the early hours of the morning. This is a momentous occasion for everyone involved.
The newest member of the Ithumba elephant family, a delightful baby girl, was proudly presented by her mother in a heartwarming scene. The tender interaction between the mother and her calf radiated warmth and was embraced by the entire community of dependent and ex-orphaned elephants. Head Keeper Benjamin had the privilege of joining the newborn’s company, with the atmosphere undisturbed by any interruptions.
The newborn was bestowed with the name “Lili,” a befitting choice considering that her mother, Loijuk, was rescued near a swamp named after the wild water lilies. This once-swamp has now transformed into a vibrant paradise teeming with water birds and wildlife, thanks to favorable rains. This joyous occasion marks the 31st grandchild welcomed into the Ithumba family, a testament to their enduring legacy.
Loijuk’s journey has been nothing short of remarkable. Our first encounter with her was back in 2006 when we rescued her as a five-month-old elephant. Over the past 14 years, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing Loijuk’s transformation into a thriving, independent wild elephant, surrounded by her ex-orphan and wild elephant companions. It’s incredibly heartening to see her now embracing motherhood. These moments resonate deeply with Daphne Sheldrick, the founder of the SWT, who found great joy in sharing them with us.
Loijuk and her elephant family have consistently displayed trust and grace in their relationship with their human counterparts, never forgetting the kindness and love they received during their time of need. These moments stand as a living testament to Daphne’s extraordinary legacy. Her pioneering work, fueled by love and compassion, continues to bestow the gift of life time and time again, as evidenced by the tiny footsteps of the next generations of wild-born elephants. Thanks to Daphne’s profound life’s work, her memory will endure as a shining exemplar of the enduring power of love and compassion.