Kilabasi: A Tale of Resilience and Motherhood in the Elephant World

In 2011, Kilabasi, a young elephant, was in a dire situation during the peak of the poaching crisis.

She was discovered by villagers in Chala, having wandered into Tsavo from Tanzania alone and on the brink of starvation.

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Tragically, Kilabasi was too young to fend for herself and likely lost her mother to poachers. Today, several years later, Kilabasi embarks on a new journey leading her into motherhood.

Kilabasi was just one of many innocent elephant calves left orphaned due to the devastating effects of ivory poaching.

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We first encountered her when she arrived at the Nursery, displaying signs of distress and frequently wandering off, a typical behavior among orphaned elephants mourning the loss of their families.

However, with time, Kilabasi underwent a remarkable transformation.

Her newfound confidence became evident when she transitioned to Ithumba in January 2013. While her companion Kanjoro was apprehensive during the journey, Kilabasi remained composed.

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Upon her arrival at Tsavo, she confidently stepped out of the truck without a backward glance, a far cry from her early days at the Nursery.

As we embrace the arrival of a new year, we are delighted to share some heartwarming news – the birth of new life! Kilabasi, living freely for several years, regularly visits her extended elephant family at Ithumba.

We began to suspect something exciting was on the horizon when we noticed her belly gradually expanding over two years. It was a breathtaking sight, proof that new life flourished within her.

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Regrettably, Kilabasi’s pregnancy coincided with the harshest part of the dry season. Wisely, she chose to stay close to Ithumba as her belly swelled to an unimaginable size.

Even Benjamin and the other Keepers began to wonder if she could longer carry the baby. Despite the seemingly endless wait for rain, there was no sign of Kilabasi’s baby.

With Ithumba experiencing a baby boom, Kofi, Kilabasi’s newborn son, will have many companions as he grows.

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Many ex-orphan mothers have chosen to stay near Ithumba, providing ample support for Kilabasi in her maternal journey. Kilabasi, who was once an exceptional nanny to her friends’ babies, now passes the torch to her younger companions.

Our baby elephant department has been exceptionally blessed, with six calves born in Ithumba within six weeks at the close of 2021. Additionally, Icholta introduced her latest addition to the Voi Keepers at the start of 2022.

Kofi is the 46th baby elephant we have rescued, nurtured, and released back into the wild, serving as a testament to the progress made in elephant conservation.

We are thrilled to witness this new chapter in Kilabasi’s life and are confident she will be an outstanding mentor to Kofi.

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