The Return of Echo's Son

Mon, 2010-01-18 15:16 by cmoss
ElyRt_18-1-10Med ElySpeared1Med ElySpeared2Med Elyfromback18-1-10Med

Soila, Norah and I went out together this morning. We knew there were big groups out west and in Longinye but we chose to go west. There in the tall elephant grass to the south of Lake Conch we found an aggregation of over 100 elephants consisting of several families and 10+ bulls. Trying to do censuses of the families was a nightmare, so at one point when it was totally impossible I said let's see if we can identify the bulls. We drove over to a group of four bulls who were sparring in the river. Norah knew three of them, but the fourth one appeared to be a stranger. He had a large bump high up on his back above the hip. Norah, who is the expert on the bulls, hadn't remembered seeing a bull like that. We looked closely at him and noted that he had curtain or drape ears with prominent folds at the top. He started sparring with Bjorn who was born in 1989. The mystery male seemed slightly smaller so maybe he was a '90 or a '91. Then Norah said maybe it's Ely (Soila and I laughed) and she got out his card. We looked at the veins, the drape in his ear, and his almost hairless tail and started to get more and more excited. The age was right; he was born February 28, 1990. What added to our excitement was knowing that in 1997 Ely had been speared in exactly the spot where the bump now was. A good view of the veins in his right ear confirmed it was definitely Ely. We were so excited, clapping and shouting, that we scared a poor bull who was coming to join the others.

Ely was Echo's son who was born crippled. Martyn Colbeck and I were there to film him from the time he was only a couple of hours old. Ely couldn't stand because his front carpal joints (like our wrists) were completely bent under and rigid. However, Echo and her older daughter Enid would not give up on him, even when the rest of the family had to leave to find food and water. Ely turned out to be a survivor. He kept trying to stretch and bend his legs and eventually they became more flexible. On the third day he was able to stand. His story was the main part of the first Echo film and book: "Echo of the Elephants". Martyn and I also wrote a children's book about Ely called "Little Big Ears: the story of Ely".

Over the next ten years Ely had many adventures and problems including a bout of what we call "twisting disease" and in 1997 he was speared. He was treated by a vet and recovered.

Some time in 2000 Ely went independent which was early for a young male. The average age of departure is around 12. Some are real mama's boys and stay till 18, but not Ely. He was ready to go out and join the other males and learn how to be a bull. He was seen a few times after he left, the last time in April 2001. After that he was never seen again until today. That is nearly nine years.

Where was he? What was he doing? One of the bulls near him was Neill who we also hadn't been seen in several years. Norah and Soila had last recorded Neill on one of their trips to Tanzania, so we think Ely may have been with him. Wherever he's been, he's been doing well. He is a big, handsome, healthy 20 year old getting ready to compete with other males to mate with females. We hope he'll pass on those good survivor genes.

I am attaching four photos of Ely: 1) right ear showing the veins and drape ear and part of his body showing the bump; 2) 1997 photo of Ely with spear; 3) Ely in 1997 from the back with spear; and 4) Ely today moving away showing the bump and his sparse tail hairs.

Ely's return

Tue, 2010-02-02 21:31 by Jane

How apt that just a few months after the passing of Echo, her most famous son turns up out of the blue.
It is truly wonderful news.

Hanging out with Ely

Sat, 2010-01-30 22:08 by Human Neill

I was also glad to see that "Neill" the elephant has been seen again....


Fri, 2010-01-22 00:56 by Shuger66

Great news, and I have to say that my love affair with elephants began one day about 10 years ago when I happened to change the channel on my TV and stumbled upon the opening scene of Ely's birth and subsequent foot struggles. I was immediately transfixed and mesmerized by the unfolding drama of Ely trying to stand and take his first true suckle... and me cheering him on! I remember saying out loud...c'mon little fella, you can do it, you can do it...I was blown away by the dedication and patience of Echo and Enid as they refused to abandon him and I fell in love with them all. Thank you for sharing with us, and thank you for the amazing work that you do. Ely is a survivor in the truest sense of the word.



Thu, 2010-01-21 12:27 by Alison1962

What an amazing story, it must be great for you all to see him again and looking so well, thankyou for this news and i hope he will stay close to the park for a long time and meet up with his family again

Ely's return

Wed, 2010-01-20 05:33 by Alice C.

Our family was overjoyed when we found your website and read this about Ely. Our kids, especially our daughter Mary, are crazy about elephants and have at least a dozen stuffed ones, all but one named with "E" names! We recently found the DVD of Echo of the Elephants and have watched it together as a family. My husband is so tender-hearted that he left the room during the first episode when Ely was born crippled and was struggling to walk. We have been horrified, entertained, amused, and thoroughly amazed at watching these magnificent animals. My daughters have cried at seeing them hurt, sick, or mistreated. We found your website yesterday and were so happy to see that Ely has been spotted again! We rejoice with you! We plan to follow your work from now on.


Tue, 2010-01-19 14:17 by suguta0

That's wonderful news. I always did so admire Ely's courage and determination. And I like to think it gives hope that all the others are somewhere in that vast area, happily going about their business.

We can not express to you all how excited we are on Ely's return

Tue, 2010-01-19 06:19 by ssayialel

Last year was hectic for all of us because of the drought and loosing good friends that we've known for many years. I think it was by good luck that that the three of us went out together and for many days we were under a lot of stress and depression but Ely's return put us in good moods. The memories of yesterday are still vivid in our minds remembering how we kept on looking deep into all the details of an old photo taken in 2000. The veins and shape of the ear helped a lot and also the bump where he was speared. Thank you all for the comments it shows that all of you are with us in everything that we do. It is our hope and trust that we will have a good year full of surprises and blessing to elephants and our work.

Ely's Return

Tue, 2010-01-19 22:16 by Donna

I have some idea, Soila, how excited you all are to see Ely again. I had trouble sleeping last night because of my joy at knowing he is all right. I am so delighted Cynthia had the idea of going to see the bulls.

Wonderful news

Tue, 2010-01-19 05:28 by Pete666

Thank you for posting the news of Ely's return, I often wonder how he's getting on. It's great to see him looking so well.


Ely, Wonderful

Tue, 2010-01-19 01:20 by Donna

Wow, has this caused a stir!! I, too, am thrilled to know he is alive, well and such a big and handsome fellow. What great news!

Ely's return

Tue, 2010-01-19 01:08 by bookishfilly

How excited you all must have been to see an old friend after so many years. He looks great! Apparently Ely is a tough cookie like his mother. Great news!

Elys Return

Tue, 2010-01-19 00:30 by Lof

Wow having a lousy day till i heard this news this makes life so worth while!! Thank you

... can't believe my eyes

Tue, 2010-01-19 00:01 by BluAbbeyCat

ELY is back and doing well....such a handsome guy he grew up to be ... Oh what wonderful news. Thank you Soila, Norah and Cynthia...Bless you all.


Mon, 2010-01-18 20:52 by Gunn

I'm so incredible happy. Joyce told me he was probably dead, and now he emerges safe and sound.
Thank you so much for the good news. We really needed that after all the bad news we've had lately.
Reason for a celebration :-))

Excellent News!

Mon, 2010-01-18 19:55 by Jude

Dear Soila, Norah and Cynthia.
This is such exciting news! Can imagine how thrilling it was to realise you were all looking at Ely! We had feared the worst for him. When Echo passed away we talked about Ely and her (and Enid's) determined care and assistance of him when he was born. The condition he had at birth is seen in overly large foals of horses - he is going to be one big mature elephant! Great way to start the day reading this news. :-) Sharing your excitement. Hope he hangs around in the Amboseli now. Way to go Ely!

Wonderful News! Thank you!

Mon, 2010-01-18 23:37 by hge

Ely was the centre of the heartwarming story in Echo of the Elephant I. I remember Echo and Enid stayed with him all the time. It's great that he's back and doing well. That’s how fascinating this project is. Thank you for the updates. I hope Enid and all Echo's offspring are doing well too.


Mon, 2010-01-18 16:58 by Jan

Such tremendously heartwarming news!! I hope he stays in Amboseli where he will be relatively safe rather than going back to Tanzania where there is hunting and poaching.

Please keep us up to date on him and let us know if he meets up with Echo's family and remembers them. What a reunion that would be to see!

There is plenty of poaching

Mon, 2010-01-18 21:16 by RebeccaC

There is plenty of poaching in Kenya. It is no more safe for elephants, perhaps even less safe, than Tanzania.

I remember Ely from the Echo films, so great to hear about this sighting. Was the spear removed by someone and wound treated, or it fell out and healed on its own?

Ely's back - What wonderful News!

Mon, 2010-01-18 19:05 by katherineherzog

I was thinking the worse when Ely went missing for these many years. Figured the poachers got him.
This is such great news that one of Echo's calves is now a big boy. I can only hope he survives to reproduce and pass his and his mom's
wonderful genes.
I'm looking up now to my self above my computer to the small wooden carvings of Echo and Ely
carved by Peter/Nkoshofu.

Ely's return !

Mon, 2010-01-18 16:18 by Anna Martinsson

Fantastic news, I think many had given up hope on his return, what a survivor and so nice to see a son of Echo's ! I remember a blog post from back in December 2007 saying - Ely: wanted Alive ! So pleased for the three of you and may he continue to grow in to his full prime and make sure the region is full of other small fighters and survivors ...


Mon, 2010-01-18 15:57 by msowers

What fantastic news! And great to see the new pictures of him.

Fabulous news! Thanks for

Mon, 2010-01-18 17:31 by clm1950

Fabulous news! Thanks for sharing ...

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