“Spotting a Miracle: The Lone Elephant Calf’s Journey to Tsavo Amidst Poaching Crisis”

As poaching became a rampant issue, elephants were being killed at an alarming rate of one every 15 minutes just for their ivory. In the midst of this crisis, a heartbreaking sight was witnessed by villagers in Chala in July 2011 – a young, weak elephant calf struggling its way into Tsavo from Tanzania all alone. It was obvious that she was much too young to be on her own, and it was assumed that she had lost her mother to the brutal hands of poachers. This event proved to be a turning point in Kilabasi’s life, as it led her to embrace motherhood as the next chapter in her journey.

Kilabasi was just one of the numerous babies left without parents due to the poaching crisis that caused devastation in the ivory industry. When Kilabasi was brought to the Nursery, she was restless and prone to wander off, which is common for orphans who are grieving. However, as time passed, Kilabasi became more confident and self-assured. In January of 2013, she graduated to Ithumba, and unlike her companion Kanjoro, who was nervous throughout the journey, Kilabasi remained calm and collected. She fearlessly strode into her new home and didn’t look back, a noticeable contrast from her arrival at the Nursery.

As we kick off the new year, we have some exciting news to share about our favorite elephant family. Kilabasi has been roaming the wild for quite some time now but she always makes sure to visit her Ithumba family regularly. We were thrilled to learn that she was expecting a new addition to the family. For almost two years, we watched as her baby bump grew bigger and rounder, signaling the arrival of a new life.
Despite the harsh dry season, Kilabasi made a wise decision to stay close to Ithumba during the final stages of her pregnancy. Her belly was so large that Benjamin and the Keepers thought she couldn’t possibly carry the baby any longer. However, even with the arrival of the long-awaited rains, Kilabasi’s baby was still nowhere to be seen. It was a privilege for us to witness this transformation and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this growing family.

With Ithumba experiencing a baby boom, Kofi will have plenty of companions to play with as he matures. However, great things come to those who are patient, and on January 2, 2022, Kilabasi introduced her newborn baby boy to us. He is an adorable elephant with a curious trunk and perfectly shaped, heart-like ears. We have named him Kofi. Numerous ex-orphan mothers are still residing in the vicinity of Ithumba, so Kofi will have many small friends to interact with as he grows. Additionally, Kilabasi will have no shortage of helpers eager to assist her with maternal duties.

Kilabasi has been a devoted nanny to her friends’ infants, and now she is passing on the torch to her younger companions. The baby boom in Ithumba at the end of 2021 was a true blessing, with six calves born within six weeks. Furthermore, 2022 commenced on an equally auspicious note, with Icholta presenting her newest addition to the Voi Keepers. Kofi, the 46th known offspring of an orphaned elephant rescued, nurtured, and reintegrated back into the wild, is now thriving under Kilabasi’s care. Kilabasi was rescued during a time when the future of elephants was uncertain, but witnessing wild-born babies like Kofi provides evidence of the progress made over the decade. We are thrilled to observe the beginning of Kilabasi’s new journey, with little Kofi by her side.

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