It has been four great years, and we are happy to celebrate it with you! Reteti Elephant Sanctuary was officially opened by the Samburu County Governor, H.E Moses Lenolkulal, back on the 20th of August 2016. Designed to Rescue, Rehabilitate, Reunite and Release orphaned and abandoned elephant calves while creating benefit to the people and community living alongside them. Since then we have gone from strength to strength.
Elephant calves are abandoned for many reasons, most often due to human/wildlife conflict, drought, or becoming stuck in a water well while trying to drink. Reteti only brings calves back to the sanctuary after all attempts to reunite them with their wild families had been exhausted, or if they are in serious need of medical help. To date, Reteti has rescued over 52 elephant calves and one black rhino calf. Six of the elephants were returned to their families, and 16 succumbed to their injuries. Ten have been released back into the wild.
Kapai's Herd -
Kapai's herd, photo by Vivian Jebet
There are 13 elephants in Kapai’s herd , namely: Kapai, Kikwar, Sarara, Kelele, Lemorijo, Meibai, Kone, Hamsini, Lorrian, Olpejeta, Metumi, Sere, and Sura Adoru. The age of the elephants in this herd ranges from about one to three years. The three-year-old Meibai acting the proxy matriarch of the group after Shaba was released back into the wild in the second Reteti re-wilding exercise in November 2019. Meibai keeps order, she teaches the young ones how to forage and navigate steep paths, and also welcomes the orphans who come into the sanctuary to join the herd.
The New Arrivals -
The nursery herd, photo by Vivian Jebet.
Since February we have had a flurry of new arrivals under the age of 6 months old. Traditionally these are the most challenging to raise. Amongst these seven calfs are L’onguro - found on Loisaba Conservancy with a severed trunk after he was attacked by hyenas.
At such a young age he already was real little hero and strong fighter, just like Lomunyak, who was found washed downstream of the Ewaso Nyiro after being chased in to the river by lions. One of the main things that has made a big difference in being able to raise these small and vulnerable calfs, and especially those with challenging injuries such as Lomunyak and Longuro is the discovery of using a new milk formula which is far easier for the elephants to digest, extremely nutritious and best of all it is right under our trunks in the local community. Thanks to the efforts of the keepers, co founder Katie Rowe and the local community a plan to start using goats milk was formed, after research and sign off from vets and the Kenya wildlife service the new formula was tried with Sera, and since then has had 100% success rate with all seven calfs.
Samburu women supporting Elephants.
As you can imagine we are extremely excited about this idea as not only does it empower the women in the local community who are traditionally the owners of the milk, but it is also supporting the community through milk sales when tourism is low, and finally the elephants are thriving on it! Livestock plays an important sociocultural role for the Samburu people and the link between their own livestock supporting the orphans has made the bond between the community and the elephants incredibly strong and a lot of pride for the project.
Reteti Elephant Sanctuary continues to lead the way with new ideas and breaking stereotypes as well as transform the lives of the Namunyak community by supporting their conservation efforts and improving livelihoods and currently employs a total of 61 staff, all drawn from the local community.
Although it has been a tough year for the whole world and the Sanctuary been excluded for the challenges, as we heavily rely on revenue from tourists visits, which dropped tremendously this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the constraints, our committed team at Reteti continued to implement its core objective of rescuing, rehabilitating and re-wilding orphaned elephant calves, successfully conducting our third translocation of elephants to Sera Rhino Sanctuary in May last year which was a easy and successful transition for the calfs.
And yet within this awful pandemic, we have found opportunity. We have found ways to strengthen our communications with each other, with our donors and partners. As well as find new ways to further elephant care and further support the community.
We would like to say a huge thank you for all your support over the past four years, we certainly couldn’t have done it without you!