Yatta, an 18-year-old elephant once rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) in Kenya, recently brought her newborn calf to meet the caretakers who had raised her. Yatta was orphaned in 1999 and has been living in the wild with a herd of ex-orphans for over eight years now.
Yatta grew up at the sanctuary, where she was raised by human caretakers alongside other orphaned elephants. Last month, Yatta returned to the sanctuary with her new calf, named Yoyo by rescuers, and her firstborn daughter, Yetu.
This heartwarming reunion is a testament to the important work of DSWT, which has been rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned elephants for over 40 years, and the strong bonds that can form between humans and animals.
Yatta allows a caretaker to remove ticks from Yoyo’s ears.
According to DSWT staff, Yatta affectionately introduced her newborn to the people who saved her, earning her the nickname “proud momma”. Rob Brandford, also of DSWT, noted that while it’s not uncommon for ex-orphans to return with their calves, each visit is still special.
Brandford emphasized the importance of these visits, explaining that elephants place great value on their family relationships. Former caretakers are considered part of the elephant family. Yatta, now known as a “miracle mum”, has given birth to two healthy calves sired by wild-born elephants.
Yatta’s ex-orphan herd returning for a visit.
DSWT was delighted to discover that two of Yatta’s adopted orphan “sisters” also gave birth to calves the same month. The sanctuary now celebrates a total of 28 wild-born babies. These new calves bring hope to DSWT, which rescues numerous orphaned and injured elephants each year, many of whom fall victim to poachers.
Yatta’s new calf, Yoyo.
Yatta’s mother was killed for her tusks when she was only a month old. Workers in the area heard her cries and assisted in transporting her to DSWT for care. Yatta is one of over 100 orphaned elephants that have been successfully reintroduced to the wild by DSWT. The organization also has a field team that works to protect wild habitats from poachers.
Yoyo, the calf, walks alongside his mom, Yatta.
The caretakers at DSWT expressed their joy at witnessing the ex-orphan herds expand so naturally, calling it the greatest gift and a testament to the success of the Orphans Project.