Sunday night has been elephant update night for Anne. My head is swimming in new information and stories. Before I venture out, let me share this charming, empathetic story in National Geographic about Kenya’s Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya.
A few weeks ago, AOC featured the entire short virtual reality film ‘My Africa’, narrated by Lupita Nyong’o and set among the Samburu people. The region of the film and this May, 2017 article includes the Turkana, Rendille, Borana, and Somali peoples — besides the Samburu. Knowledgeable about many of the civil wars that have ravaged Africa (and America) I’m not familiar with tensions in this area. The point of our story and ‘My Africa’ is how these ethnic groups are working together today to strengthen their communities while protecting the estimated 6,000 elephants, according to National Geographic, who share the land.
In fact, I pursued the article because of this beautiful image of Mary Lengees, one of Reteti’s first female elephant keepers and Shyian. Upon landing at National Geographic, I felt a poignant moment for Shaba, a little female elephant who is now the boss. So much has been written about the great elephant matriarchs, strong leaders who sleep hardly at all to protect their herd.
The notion of a baby girl elephant’s natural instincts taking hold, making her the leader and caretaker long before her time is due reminds me of stories of young girls with countless siblings — too many for mom to manage — or even orphan girls with young brothers and sisters who suddenly rise to positions of leadership, almost out of instinct.