#10Morans: Elephant guardian

Photo: Jeff Waweru

Photo: Jeff Waweru

A few years ago his job was inconceivable in his home area. Today, he couldn't imagine doing anything else.

This is Talone Leshalote, elephant caregiver at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. Reteti is owned and operated by Namunyak Community Conservancy, and takes in orphaned and abandoned elephant calves with an aim to release them back into the wild.

As one of the Sanctuary's five milk mixers, Talone helps make 112 bottles of milk every day for the 14 elephants in his team’s care. Each calf needs to be fed every three hours, with a special blend of milk powder and supplements.

This means many early mornings and late nights for Talone and his colleagues, but he doesn’t mind. "Knowing that the milk helps the young elephants grow and become stronger is what keeps us going," he says. He is especially fond of Kikwar, a young female elephant who he helped rescue from a well, and who is now thriving at the sanctuary.

Talone says he’s seen a change in the way his community see elephants over the past few years, and plays an active role in raising awareness about human-wildlife co-existence in his home area of Ngilai, which is prone to human-elephant conflict. "Now, the community is always quick to let us know when they come across an abandoned or lone elephant calf," he says. "Being able to provide a home in our community for these calves who would otherwise not survive by themselves is a great source of pride for us."

Sophie Harrison