In early 2014, a female elephant killed a woman from a Kenyan village, sparking a violent clash between man and the wild. This led not only to the elephant being shot and killed but also saw the angry humans spear and pelt stones at the orphan baby elephant Mbegu.
In the chaos, it was deemed impossible to try to reunite Mbegu with her herd. An innocent calf at the cusp of a tragic end. But thanks to the efforts of the Naibunga Conservancy, Mbegu was saved and taken to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT).
Since becoming a resident of the elephant orphanage at DSWT, Mbegu has bonded really well with her keepers and the other orphans with their painful pasts.
As a young matriarch figure, Mbegu is known to give away her own treats to the younger orphans. She loves playing mock hide-and-seek and even encourages the sad orphans by stroking them with her trunk, all this to escape their collected grim pasts.
The Elephant population in Kenya (and African continent at large) has gravely suffered from poaching and the subsequent loss of habitat. “Wild elephants are displaying symptoms associated with human post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD”, Elephant researcher Joyce Poole notes in a study. She adds, “An elephant whose family members are killed by people is unlikely to forget it very quickly. Just as children learn prejudices from their parents, so, too, do elephants. In Amboseli [Kenya] the elephants are fearful/aggressive toward Masai [people] but not toward tourists as they are regularly speared by Masai.”
One can’t help but wonder in awe at the resilience of this orphan baby elephant! Mbegu draws this dog to Pablo Neruda’s lines:
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.