Exciting News from Ithumba: Yatta, the Ex Orphan, Welcomes Her Third Calf, a Healthy Baby Boy Named Yogi!

Ithumba witnessed a remarkable event this morning as Yatta, an ex-orphan, delivered her third calf. The newborn, a male, was given the name Yogi and is reported to be in good health. This is certainly a momentous occasion for all those involved.

Yogi is the latest addition to our elephant family, and he joins three other babies born in the past four weeks: Kaia, Njema, and Noah. This number only includes the offspring of our orphaned elephants – we also have two wild elephant mothers with their newborns staying with us. Our Head Keeper Benjamin has mentioned that Ithumba is quickly becoming a hub for young elephants, with little ones running around in every direction.

This morning, there was some initial confusion when Benjamin saw ex orphans eating lucerne outside the stockades, which is their custom during the dry season. He assumed that a tiny baby amidst all the towering elephants was one of the five newborns that had already been introduced. But then, he realized that this baby was actually newly born! Elephants love celebrations, so Yatta’s closest friends gathered to welcome Yogi to the world. Guests included Nasalot and her rascal sons, Kinna and her daughters, Wendi and her daughters, Galana, Lualeni, and Sunyei, along with their girls, and Makena and Makireti. The only missing guests were Yatta’s other babies, Yetu and Yoyo, but they showed up a few hours later in the company of ex orphans Ithumbah and Namalok. Yatta, being an experienced mother, knows how to tackle this challenging dry season. She stayed close to Ithumba for the entire day, eating lucerne, taking plenty of water, and resting while Yogi played by her side. She understands the importance of keeping her milk bar high for her newborn.

Yatta’s story is a testament to the impact that saving even one life can have for generations. 22 years ago, a group of workers heard distressed cries coming from the Yatta Plateau and discovered a baby elephant near the body of her mother, who had been killed by poachers for her ivory. Yatta’s early days at the Nursery were difficult as she struggled with the trauma of losing her mother and several health issues. However, she eventually overcame these challenges and grew into a confident and gentle elephant.

Yatta played a crucial role in the success of our Ithumba Reintegration Unit. In 2004, when we were selecting the founding herd, we knew that having a strong matriarch was essential. Yatta’s natural leadership qualities made her the perfect choice, and she led with confidence and decisiveness upon arriving at Ithumba. Many orphans have successfully returned to the wilds of Tsavo under her guidance.

Although motherhood is a milestone for any female elephant, it has special significance for Yatta, who lost her own mother so cruelly. When she gave birth to Yetu in 2012, it was only the second time a wild baby had been born to one of our Ithumba orphans. Since then, dozens of calves have been born to elephants we rescued, raised, and reintegrated back into the wild, with Yogi being the 43rd known calf. We are confident that there will be many more little miracles to come.

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