The fifth chapter in our series following the remarkable story of Barsilinga; the rescued orphan elephant who remains an inspiration for LOVE BRAND & Co.’s founders Oliver & Rose Tomalin.
One morning in March 2014, best friends Barsilinga and Kithaka went head to head in a pushing match. Jovial pushing matches and sparring sessions between the orphans is just one way that they show their playful affection for one another. The two feisty orphans had an energetic match that Barsilinga eventually won, defeating the much smaller Kithaka. Upon losing the title in this rather competitive pushing match, Kithaka took out his upset on another close friend Lemoyian, challenging him to wrestle instead.
Later that day, cheeky Barsilinga proved that the competitions between the ophans is not exclusive to game playing, especially when it comes to bed-time snacks. Despite having his own plentiful supply in his stockade, on multiple occasions he would reach his trunk through to Oltaiyoni’s ‘bedroom’ next door in an effort to steal her greens. Oltaiyoni however was not going to let Barsilinga get away with his theft! The two stable neighbours continued a friendly little competition which would go on each night!
Barsilinga and his orphan friends formed close bonds with each other at the Nursery, as shown by the formation of their Boys Club. One day in 2014, the friends stumbled across some sleeping buffaloes in the forest. The buffaloes terrified the little elephants who ran back to their keepers looking for protection. In the end, heroic older females Murera and Sonje were the two who saved the day, by starting a bush-bashing session to scare the buffaloes away. Becoming acquainted with wild neighbours is a learning curve for the orphans and the keepers also have to be mindful of the dangers these animals may pose.
While the SWT keepers are respectful of all wild creatures, conflict with wild animals remains a very real concern for surrounding communities. With human populations expanding and space for wildlife diminishing, they are being pushed into closer proximity than ever and incidents of human-wildlife conflict are increasing, with deadly consequences on both sides. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s ‘Saving Habitats’ project works to secure unique and endangered wild habitats in Kenya, so that these spaces remain dedicated to wildlife. For example, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has built and continues to maintain over 300km of fence lines to create a buffer and to reduce conflict, whilst protecting 330,000 acres of land. The Sheldrick Trust also offers financial support to communities so that they can set aside their land for wildlife, instead of agriculture, so that this becomes a win-win situation for all.
Discover more and donate to our remarkable charity partner here Sheldrick Wildlife Trust