Among My Souvenirs

Stories of the road

The Story of Roi

Elephants live in matriarchal family structures.  But what happens to the babies when poachers and trophy hunters rob the family of mom’s protecting presence and leadership?

It is a sad statistic that the native elephant herds of Kenya are rapidly depleting.  There is nothing quite as impressive as a grazing herd of elephants feeding on the expansive Maasai Mara National Reserve, an area of preserved wilderness in southwestern Kenya, along the Tanzanian border.

Enter the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi.  A small organization, these noble folks rescue and rehabilitate elephants (and Rhinos) to be able to reincorporate them into new families on the savannah.  Their efforts are most impressive considering the magnitude of the demand and the immensity of the land.

We arrived in time for the first of the two daily feedings.  With great drama and flair the baby elephants entered in parade like fashion toward the keepers who held large bottles of milk just for them.  But one baby stood out from all the rest for she wore a small patchwork blanket over her back.

In the Maasai tradition the blanket is given to the newest, the most vulnerable.  It is a protective shield to make the baby feel warm and safe because her mother and the family are gone.  After a few weeks the mantel is removed and the baby is now living among the other young orphans, making friends and entertaining the crowds.

This is baby Roi and her story can be found on the link below.  She lost her mother just three weeks before we came.  Each baby has a story, some more painful than others.  Organizations such as these survive by our donations and orphan “adoptions.”  And so I adopted Roi.  Periodically, I get an update on my orphan from one of her keepers and I report she is doing quite well.  Not quite yet back into the savannah but slowly readjusting to a new life and her new herd family.

The story of Roi's rescue