Friday, April 2, 2010

The Elephant and Rhinoceros Orphanage

On Saturday March 27th we visited the Kenya Wildlife Service. This is a reserve where orphaned Elephants and Rhinoceros are care for just long enough for it to be safe to reintroduce them back into the wild. The baby elephants usually decide to leave the compound as early as 4 years old. They are the ones that decide when they are ready to be on their own. Elephants live in a matriarchal society in which the oldest female is the undisputed leader-this leadership is not maintained by any kind of force but by instinct. The elephants were separated into 2 groups by age. The 1-2 year olds in one group and the 3-4 year olds in the other. So the oldest 2 year old female was the undisputed leader of the first group but when she moved on to the next group she relinquished her leadership role to the oldest 4 year old in that group. The compound only had two orphaned Rhinos, one of whom was blind. There was a question as to whether or not he could ever be reintroduced. However, they had over 30 baby elephants. Feeding happens every 3 hours! So the caregivers have to stay the night with the elephants. Because of the strong bonds that are formed between caregiver and elephant, the caregivers are rotated on a regular basis so that no one elephant will bond with any one caregiver, otherwise the caregivers would never be able to leave the compound. Elephants have emotions much like humans and not being able to understand, they would mourn the loss of a caregiver just like a death if they were to be separated for any extended period of time.

This young man introduced each elephant my name, from oldest to youngest, and told how they were orphaned and a little bit about their history and personality.

Much needed water break

It only took about 30 seconds for this guy to gussel his meal.

This little guy played with this soccer ball the entire time after he had eaten. He kicked it with his feet and trunk and even tried to sit on it.


Connie and Daniel Biggs Family said...

They are so cute. Makes you almost want to take one home. Sorry it took me so long to get on this blog. I wasn't able to look at it when I first saw you had it and then I forgot to look later.

Robyn said...

That is ptretty amazing!! I love how the caregiver knew all their names and stories - I am sure they look different to him but I still find that amazing and special.
No fences - that too is pretty cool!

Connie and Daniel Biggs Family said...

Emma woke me up this morning so excited that she saw these baby elephants. She loves that they're so tiny (she thinks the pictures are actual size) and I think would love to have one to hold. - Daniel

Connie and Daniel Biggs Family said...

Emma loves these little elephants.

Kameron said...

That is amazing! Can't wait to see more of what your mission brings to you! :)