Maya is a newborn elephant calf, just hours old; she is the newest arrival in Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. It is the rainy season, food is plentiful and there is something of an elephant baby boom!
But Maya and her first-time mum Zadie face many challenges: Firstly, Zadie needs to reunite with her herd so she can learn how to look after her newborn baby; then they must avoid hungry lions and the guns of poachers. But probably the biggest danger they face is the flooded river that flows through the reserve; at some point Maya will have to cross it, and hungry crocodiles will be waiting.
If she is to get through her first month, Maya will need the support of her whole extended family. Together, they must guide Maya, teach her how to be an elephant and, most importantly, keep her safe.
Sorry about the very big font I used to write this text. It’s going to be used at school so everybody can read, it from the back of the classroom too.
Maya’s mother, Zadie, is only 9 years old. She is an exceptionally young first time mom and Maya was born unusually small.
When the crew came across her Maya was only 5 or 6 hours old.
Zadie took a while to find her feet as a mother. At first she didn’t even know to let Maya suck her and she left her baby exposed to the sun. In the heat of the day Maya was at real risk of heat exhaustion but to the crew’s relief Zadie led her to a wallow and cooled her down.
This was Maya’s first experience of water. It may well save her life.
Meeting the rest of the herd for the first time is a big deal especially for the other young females. But 25 year old Annie, one of the oldest in the family, wanted Maya to know her place.
Maya’s eyesight is poor. And she’ll follow other elephants thinking they are her mother. Annie gives her a gentle nudge as if to say: “go back to your own mum”.
Elephants are born weak and vulnerable and Maya had to grow up fast.
An older calf seem to be bulling Maya forever pulling her tail but as her strength and confidence grew, Maya started to play on her own terms and her personality began to shine through.
At this stage Maya is full of fun enjoying, exploring the world in her own unique way.
Our cameraman Warren Samuels has been fascinated by this little calf. I think one of the things that really strikes me is just how small an elephant starts often its life and then how big it grows to and I’ve got just one shot of this little elephant calf in between all these legs.
Having lost one calf already the family seem determined to keep little Maya safe from harm. I just think that it’s just amazing that that little calf just lives amongst these mobile tree trunks and how so gentle these adults are with their babies.
Warren has watched Zadie and Maya over the first ten days together as they bonded and survived against the odds.
She is clearly getting more experienced and more confident looking after this little baby and it’s lovely to see just how wonderful Zadie is doing as a first-time mother.
Maya has gone through her most vulnerable time but she still faces big challenges. The herd will have to cross the river soon to feed on the other side and without the guidance of any eldest, mistakes could be made.
Maya is an elephant. She is very small. She is 5 or 6 hours old. Zadie is Maya’s mother. She is 9 years old. Maya is her first baby.
When Maya was born she couldn’t get the milk from her mom. The day was very hot and she was exposed to the heat for very long. Then Zadie took Maya to a wallow. Water saved her life.
Meeting the rest of the herd for the first time was difficult for Maya. Annie, a 25 year old elephant, helped her.
Maya’s eyesight is poor. Elephants are weak and vulnerable when they are born. Elephants are very small when they are babies but when they grow they are big and strong.
It is amazing that little elephants amongst these mobile tree trunks and how so gentle these adults are with their babies.
Now the herd will have to cross the river soon to feed on the other side. Dangers are always there so they’ll have to look after the baby.