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Lenana is one of the 15 orphan baby elephants rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), whose names adorn our Elephant London Dry Gin miniature bottles. DSWT team found out about Lenana when a cow elephant died on Ol Pejeta Ranch near Nanyuki, Kenya. With her was her milk dependent calf, who was desperately trying to awaken its dead mother. They were found within the foothills of Mount Kenya, whose three highest peaks are named after the famous early Maasai Chieftains, Batian, Nelion and Lenana – the latter seemed like a very suitable name for the orphan.
As it turned out, just over a year old Lenana and her mum joined a resident herd of others in August, and at the time it had not been noticed that, in fact, the mother was extremely unwell. This rescue alert came too late for DSWT to be able to take action that evening, so a guard was assigned to keep an eye on the Lenana during the night, and ensure that she was not targeted by predators attracted to the body of her dead mother or wander away and be unable to be found the next day. It was heartrending to watch the calf franticly doing everything possible to rouse her dead mother, alone and terrified in the hostile environment of darkness, beside the inert and cold body of a loved one that simply would not respond.
After the rescue, little Lenana was quite wild and aggressive towards the keepers, but within just a few hours she could not resist hungrily downing her first milk feed offered her by a keeper, before trying to pin him against the wall! The other eight nursery elephants were brought in to meet, and comfort her.
She was so anxious to join the others that the keepers allowed her out the following morning, but she was still too afraid to accept her milk out in the bush, so her stay inside had to be prolonged to ensure she gets all her strength back before joining all the others and re-gaining trust and confidence.
Photo credit and text: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust