“Miraculous Rescue of a Stranded Baby Calf in Meru National Park’s Waterhole”

Celebrating the Arrival of Kinna’s Second Child, Kaia
Exactly 22 years ago, we encountered a heart-wrenching situation where a week-old calf was trapped in a waterhole at Meru National Park. We rescued this orphaned calf, who had spent hours submerged in mud under the scorching sun. Unfortunately, one of the calf’s ears got severely burnt, causing the top edge to crumble off when we took her to the Nursery.

As I reminisce about our time at the Nairobi Nursery, a picture of a young Kinna comes to mind. I can vividly recall how adorable and innocent she looked at that time. It’s amazing how much she has grown and accomplished since then. The memories of those days bring a smile to my face, and it’s heartwarming to know that we played a part in her journey to becoming the amazing person she is today.

It all started in 1999 when we first took Kinna under our care. We watched her grow and thrive at the Nursery before transferring her to our Ithumba Reintegration Unit. As time passed, she eventually made the transition back into the wild. Fast forward to March 2017 and Kinna became a proud mother for the first time. She graciously shared her precious moment with us, introducing Kama shortly after giving birth.

Having the opportunity to care for a baby elephant from a young age is truly special, but it’s even more rewarding to see them grow up and start families of their own. One particular elephant named Kinna has transitioned into a fully wild lifestyle, yet still takes the time to visit her human-elephant family at Ithumba frequently. We’ve had the pleasure of observing Kinna’s second pregnancy over the course of 22 months, eagerly anticipating the arrival of her newest addition any day now.

Early on the 17th of October, there was a commotion in Ithumba as Kinna, Kama, and Yatta’s former herd arrived with a loud trumpeting sound. It was clear from the excitement that they were announcing the birth of a new baby, and Kinna had a beautiful little newborn by her side. The calf was still unsteady on its feet, but healthy and glowing pink around the ears. We have decided to name her Kaia, which is a tribute to the rich red soil that will be her home.

After being introduced to the Keepers and the dependent herd, Kaia was taken by Kinna and the others to a nearby bush where they spent hours browsing under the shade. Kama, who is almost four years old, is proving to be an excellent big sister as she walks closely with her mother, making it clear that she has claimed Kaia as hers. While Kinna will receive support from all her grown girlfriends, it’s heartwarming to see Kama taking an active role in caring for her little sister from the beginning. Sities, Mutara, Suguta, Turkwel, and Kainuk have also become devoted companions to Kinna, Kama, and baby Kaia.

As the day came to a close, Kinna, Kama, and Kaia leisurely made their way back to the stockades. The Keepers were able to provide Kinna with a special feast of lucerne, which she eagerly devoured. It’s essential for elephant mothers to stay well-nourished during these drought conditions in order to maintain their milk production. As Kinna ate, Kaia nursed for an extended period of time. After her belly was satisfied, she dozed off and rested her head on a cozy pile of lucerne.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate Kinna’s journey. 22 years ago, she almost lost her life in a muddy swamp. Today, she is confidently roaming through the terrain of Tsavo with her two adorable offspring by her side. It’s going to be a treat to observe Kaia grow and develop into her own over time.

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