I am always amazed by how very tiny elephants are when they are born. They walk among their giant herd, weaving in and out of tree trunk sized legs, and somehow are never ever stomped on by mistake.
In November I blogged about Mulika, a former orphan who had been reintroduced back to the wild, who brought her wild born calf Mwende back to the orphanage to meet those who reared her. This week another former orphan, Yatta, brought her newborn, Yetu, to the Ithumba Camp. It turns out Yetu and Mwende are half sisters sharing the same wild father. To read their story and see some incredible photos of this new small creature click here. Next month, after a day in Nairobi visiting the nursery, Cam and Chris and I are driving deep into to the Tsavo wilderness to stay at the Sheldrick Ithumba Camp before continuing our safari in Tanzania. Along with our guide we will be the only guests at the camp, where we will be immersed in the daily lives of the elephants, and hopefully meet these two new additions. Below is Sheldrick's description of the Ithumba Camp and the adventure that awaits us.
The Ithumba Camp was built as a self help camp, in an effort to open the Northern Area of Tsavo East to the discerning traveller. This area is remote, wild and untouched, and is not for everybody, but for those that seek solace in Nature and Wilderness; this is Kenya’s largest untouched wild expanse, where a visitor can spend time undisturbed in a pristine area.
The Camp has a stunning view of the Yatta Plateau, the longest lava flow in the world, stretching from Thika near Nairobi, right through Tsavo and ending at Lali beyond the Park boundary. Behind the Camp is Ithumba Hill which one can climb to get an amazing view of the expansive wilderness of the Northern Area of Tsavo, a rare commodity nowadays. From the Camp Mess upstairs one can enjoy the spectacular sunsets and sunrises for which Tsavo is known, often with Kilimanjaro visible above the distant Southern horizon.
The Tiva River, fringed by beautiful trees, is seasonal and flows only during periods of rainfall further upstream. It offers spectacular game drives, since it is a focal point for all wildlife, where elephants dig in the sand to expose sub-surface supplies upon which all life is reliant. The animal and bird life in the Northern Area of Tsavo is varied and exceptional, but since this is a wilderness which has been closed to the public since the creation of the Park way back in 1949, the wildlife of the area is not habituated to vehicles or the presence of humans. (The only human presence has been that of either poachers or the Rangers that patrol the area periodically). Animals here are wild and because of this, they are elusive, so the Northern Area of Tsavo is for the connoisseur of pristine wilderness, a person who is thrilled by the intricacies of nature as a whole and who will savour the unspoilt aspect of a truly wild place, for this is one of the last great wilderness areas on earth. Here, one searches for the animals rather than expecting them to be standing by the roadside and one should be interested not just in the Big Five, but in all aspects of nature. The Northern Area of Tsavo therefore is for the more intrepid traveller who relishes being off the beaten track, and finds solace in silence interrupted only by natural sound; a person who can appreciate the Great Big Skies, the star-studded nights, and the rich array of different species, whether animal, bird, insect or vegetable, for all are plentiful here, varied, fascinating and spectacular. But, above all, it is the atmosphere of a truly wild place that is balm to the human soul, and which becomes positively addictive to those fortunate enough to be able to experience and savour it. The Northern Area of Tsavo is unique in that it offers this extremely rare commodity.