Born in 1987 to Katrineka, Kilifi was a member of the so-called KA family, who were first sighted and photographed in 1973 by Cynthia Moss, a pioneering elephant researcher working along Amboseli Trust For Elephants. 

Elephant births are very dependent on surrounding conditions and often during droughts they don’t get pregnant or can’t finish the pregnancy successfully due to lack of nutrition. Following 1984’s drought and at the same time Maasai promoting a new warrior set – a deadly combination of the drought and scores of young men out to prove their bravery was devastating for the elephants. In all 67 elephants died during 1984. The KAs were not spared. Calves and elderly died, and for a couple of years there were almost no new additions to the family. Kilifi was therefore very welcome!

Kilifi got a taste of a severe conditions in her adult life when in 2009 Amboseli (Kenya) experienced the worst drought in living memory. Nearly 400 elephants died. Among these were 60 adult females of which 27 were matriarchs. Some families suffered severe losses. Others lost all the calves born after 2006 leaving only adolescents and adults. On the other hand a few families made it through the drought with few deaths. 

One of these fortunate families was the KAs. The matriarch Kerry got her family through the drought with no losses at all. And even more amazing the two calves born during 2009 (to Keira and Kilifi) both survived. To give some perspective, 83 calves were born in Amboseli during 2009. Of these only 41 survived. Since then the family is been keeping up healthy and strong.

Photo and text credit: Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Trust For Elephants, Save the Elephants