The second 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 of the most magical moments in the last ten years for Oliver and Rose was meeting Barsilinga. 

Barsilinga who is now 8 years old was rescued by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in 2012, after his mother was shot and fell victim to the ivory trade. 

Gunshots sounded in the Wamba area of Samburu, Northern Kenya, on the night of 13th April 2012.  The following morning, an injured female elephant was seen, bullet wounds in the chest area and front legs rendering her barely able to move, while a tiny calf stood by her side.

The matter was reported to the Kenya Wildlife Service who summoned their vet, Dr. Mutinda, to travel to the scene to assess the injured mother. Her wounds were too severe for any hope of recovery and it was decided that the only course of action was to end her suffering and to save her calf.  The mother’s end was a painful one and her calf would have been a victim too had he not been one of the lucky few rescued. He had his last feed of his mother’s milk that morning before she was laid to rest. Meanwhile, a rescue team from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust travelled up from Nairobi, flying some 300km to collect the little orphan to bring him into the care of their elephant orphanage in Nairobi National Park. 

By early afternoon, the SWT Rescue Team touched down at the nearest airstrip, awaiting the arrival of KWS who still had a good distance to travel with the little baby safely aboard the back of a landcruiser pickup, closely held by the rangers. After the SWT keepers checked on his condition, he was loaded into the aircraft to be airlifted back to the Nursery.

IMAGE COURTESY OF SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST

When baby Barsilinga arrived in April 2012, he was only two weeks old, a tiny bull, still pink behind the ears. He was given the name “Barsilinga” after the area close to where his mother met her grizzly end, just weeks after giving life to this precious baby.

In January 2013, before Barsilinga had reached his first birthday, Oliver and Rose visited the Nursery in Nairobi to see the Orphans’ Project first hand. Oliver and Rose were given permission to join a group of orphans on their morning walk, careful not to interrupt the orphans’ rehabilitation schedule.

After the walk, the orphans enjoyed some downtime before heading back to the Nursery stockades. This is when Oliver and Rose met Barsilinga and spent time in the shade, while Barsilinga relaxed and grazed on some grasses and leaves at the foot of the trees.

IMAGE COURTESY OF SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST

It was a calm and magical morning, a far cry from the violence and pain that brought Barsilinga to the orphanage. Witnessing the devoted care of the keepers, the comfort it brings the vulnerable orphaned elephants and the bonds that form, has stayed with Oliver and Rose ever since. 

Barsilinga’s little hairy head, his wonderful eyes and long eyelashes, his little legs and toes melted the couple’s hearts and these moments shared with Barsilinga have been fondly etched into their memories forever.

This year LOVE BRAND & Co. is dedicating 1% of our revenue to helping the Orphans’ Project and the Sheldrick Trust’s wider initiatives to secure their future. 

A WALK AT THE SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST

Please visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust  to discover more about their wide-ranging projects. 

www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

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