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Being Barsilinga | Chapter 6 "The Big Move"

The orphaned elephants explore
The sixth chapter in our series following the remarkable story of Barsilinga, the rescued orphan elephant who remains an inspiration for Love Brand founders Oliver & Rose Tomalin.
Barsilinga The ElephantImage © Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Barsilinga, Lemoyian and Kithaka arriving at Ithumba

May 29th 2015 marked a special milestone for Barsilinga as he graduated from the Nairobi Nursery, a place he had called home for three years. Alongside two of his great friends, Kithaka and Lemoyian, the young bulls embarked on their exciting journey to Tsavo, to one of the Trust’s Reintegration Units, Ithumba. The process of rehabilitation is a long one that can take around eight to ten years before the elephants are comfortable with being entirely independent of their keepers. As with any child fleeing the nest, the elephants were excited for the chance to venture into the big wide world!
Barsilinga The Elephant The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Image © Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Barsilinga with his keepers

On the morning of the big move, the three travellers were woken at 3:30am and given a mild sedative to calm them. The elephants were then led to the custom-built elephant transporter with the incentive of a milk bottle. Barsilinga and Lemoyian entered the lorry with ease and settled in for the journey ahead. Little Kithaka however, put up a bit of a fuss. Despite twelve men trying to guide the reluctant elephant into his compartment, it took another delicious milk bottle to lure Kithaka into the lorry!

Throughout the journey, the three boys had their keepers close by and could reach out and rumble to each other for comfort. Some six hours later, the lorry rolled into the Ithumba stockades with its precious cargo on board. As the new arrivals stepped off the trunk to be greeted and enveloped by the Ithumba orphan herd, it was easy to spot the three newcomers in amongst them, wide-eyed and still bright red from the rich-coloured earth found at the Nursery.

Barsilinga was now to begin getting to know a whole new team of keepers at Ithumba. He still had two keepers with him who had joined him for the journey and, much to his surprise, Barsilinga was greeted by a few more familiar faces – keepers and orphans – which made the transition a lot smoother. The three naughty boys were excited for their new beginning and Barsilinga in particular remained calm yet inquisitive about his new home. Having outgrown the cossetted Nursery environment, the three little bulls now found themselves in the vast expanse of Tsavo with the opportunity to mix with wild elephants and explore greater independence.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Image © Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Anti-poaching initiative

As they gradually assimilate into the wild population, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust continues to protect Barsilinga and his friends through their various projects. This includes deploying rangers on the ground to protect elephants, rhinos and other wild species as part of their anti-poaching initiatives. The SWT operate thirteen De-Snaring Teams in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service to inhibit illegal wildlife activities, 12 of these in the Tsavo Conservation Area. In addition, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust carries out daily Aerial Surveillance patrols to monitor wildlife and deter illegal activity. With two helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft acting as the SWT’s “eyes in the sky”, the Trust is also able to provide rapid response assistance to anti-poaching activities and veterinary treatments. It is reassuring to know that Barsilinga along with the other orphans will continue to be watched over and kept safe!

Discover more and donate to our remarkable charity partner here Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.


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