Umani Springs: A Remarkable Sanctuary for Orphaned Elephants in Kibwezi Forest

The Umani Springs Reintegration Unit is embarking on an exciting journey with a mission to reintegrate over 150 orphaned elephants.

These remarkable elephants are exploring new horizons in the Kibwezi Forest, gradually progressing towards independence. Some are even testing the boundaries by venturing out at night.

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Their ultimate goal is to live an entire wildlife, and the Kibwezi Forest, Chyulu Hills, and the surrounding areas are poised to become their ideal home.


Witnessing the transformation of the Kibwezi Forest in the last decade has been truly astonishing, and it’s an honor to be part of this extraordinary journey.

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A unique opportunity emerged when the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) assumed responsibility for the Umani Springs and the Kibwezi Forest.

This exceptional sanctuary was transformed into a haven for orphaned elephants, offering them a second chance at life.


It’s a testament to the healing power of second chances and the resilience of the natural world.

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The Kibwezi Forest, situated in Kenya, is a treasure with its underground water sources nourishing its diverse ecosystems.

It’s not only a sanctuary for 12 orphaned elephants but also sustains the neighboring communities.


In 2008, the forest was dire due to illegal activities, such as poaching, logging, and charcoal harvesting.

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The SWT stepped in, securing the forest with an electric fence and engaging the local community for its protection.

Through these efforts, the forest has remarkably recovered, with wildlife populations increasing, vegetation regenerating, and rainfall improving.


In 2014, the Kibwezi Forest became a haven for elephant orphans with severe poaching injuries.

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Starting a Reintegration Unit from scratch is challenging, but the arrival of orphans Murera, Sonje, Quanza, Lima Lima, and Zongoloni marked the beginning of their transformation. Lima Lima emerged as a leader, guiding the other orphans in adapting to their new life.

Lima Lima’s leadership extends to safeguarding the Keepers and the herd from potential threats.


She, along with the other orphans, has formed strong bonds with their caretakers and the wild elephant community.

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At Umani Springs, the power of friendship prevails, ensuring the emotional well-being and success of these remarkable elephants.

Umani Springs was initially supported by a dedicated group of Keepers who intended to stay temporarily.


However, the enchanting environment and the profound bond with the elephants persuaded them to make it their permanent home.

This success story highlights the transformation of the Kibwezi Forest into a sanctuary where every particular creature can thrive and secure a better future.

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