Goodbye, Lorna - A Recent Loss At The Great Elephant Project

Goodbye, Lorna - A Recent Loss At The Great Elephant Project

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on May 16, 2018

It is with heavy hearts that we bring you the news of a recent loss at The Great Elephant Project.

Some of you may remember that last year, The Great Elephant Project welcomed a baby calf named Lorna into their lives. Lorna was born to a 50-year-old matriarch which, in itself, was quite unusual: female elephants generally start to breed when they are around 12-15 years old, so for a birth to take place with an older mother does, unfortunately, carry many risks. It is, in part, this unusual birth which has lead to the recent loss of little Lorna.

An inability to lactate made it tough for Lorna’s mother to provide enough milk for the little one, but curiously Lorna did not attempt to feed from other females in her herd. Sometimes juveniles will suckle from other members of their group, and there seems to be no explanation as to why Lorna did not want to feed from anybody else. Additionally, Lorna’s start to life was marred by the impact of the dry season: scientists state that elephants need to consume 150-200 litres of water per day, which of course can be difficult during a drought, and as such this would have only contributed to Lorna’s mother’s inability to feed her young, or indeed Lorna’s ability to feed herself as the months went by.

Baby elephant and mother

Amazingly, Lorna had managed to survive for about a year before seemingly succumbing to malnourishment (this is something that is no fault of the team at The Great Elephant Project, and rather a tragic fact of life for some animals). A member of the team had gone out to observe a large herd of elephants from within the National Park when they spotted Lorna’s mum, keeping an eye out for the little one to follow, but unfortunately, it was not to be. It is this final lack of Lorna’s presence which culminates weeks of failed observations, and it is time for the team and the herd to accept what appears to be a very upsetting time in their lives.

Lorna’s mother has been observed caring for other calves of the group, including Lorna’s own cousin, Sam. While she is unable to feed them, she is keen to stay close to them and doesn’t allow them to stray too far. She appears to miss her little girl but still continues on with her herd, and it is clear that despite her inability to raise one last little life, she had been a wonderful mother to all calves that preceded Lorna.

To close out this post, we must state that the work of The Great Elephant Project is spectacular and they do so much to prevent the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka (see our recent blog about that here). As previously stated, Lorna’s demise is just a cruel part of life in the natural world, and little could be done to have prevented what had happened, but without the observations and hard work of the project staff and our volunteers, we could have lost many more like her, long ago. It is vital for the elephant species as a whole that projects still receive funding, that observations take place, and that elements of conflict are managed. Losing Lorna only goes to highlight that point, and we extend our condolences to those that had enjoyed sharing in her short life in the wild. Rest in peace, Lorna. 

Baby elephant and mother


Share this Article...

Share this article with your friends and followers by using the social media buttons below.


Leave a Comment...

Wanting to add something to this story or just let us know your thoughts? Just leave your comments below. Please be aware that all comments will be moderated: abusive behaviour or self-promotion will not be allowed.

500 characters remaining

Has this blog inspired you to volunteer? If so, why not enquire today? Simply fill out an enquiry form, and allow a member of our travel team to assist with your query! Please note that blog comments are not monitored by the travel team, so any questions related to bookings may be missed.


mrs scott commented 3 months ago
This is so so sad although I believe in animals to be wild I feel under these circumstances something should have been put in place to try to save this Baby! letting her stave to death in front of your eye is awful I dont care what anyone says animals are rescued etc all of the time so to stand back & watch a Baby starve to death is cruel!!

Featured Blog Arcticles


Featured Videos


Check out this incredible video taken by volunteer Joanne Dutton from her time on The Great Gorilla Project. This is one heart-stopping experience she will never forget!

'Seeing elephants for the first time was like seeing dinosaurs!'. Check out how Erwan found his experience volunteering on The Great Elephant Project! 

Take a look at this video of two volunteers, James and Marina, discussing their time on The Great Orangutan Project.

Latest Blog Arcticles


Meet Shrinky... A Very Special Baboon From The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

Meet Shrinky... A Very Special Baboon From The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary sadly receive many orphaned...

International Sloth Day 2018 - Sloths need our help, so let’s get moving!

International Sloth Day 2018 - Sloths need our help, so let’s get moving!

The 20th of October marks one of the cutest days in the...

The Great Gorilla Project Review - "More than an adventure, it is a trip of a lifetime!"

The Great Gorilla Project Review - "More than an adventure, it is a trip of a lifetime!"

Take a look at this detailed and exciting volunteer review...

World Animal Day 2018

World Animal Day 2018

This World Animal Day 2018, we'll be focusing on South...

World Rhino Day 2018

World Rhino Day 2018

This World Rhino Day (22nd September), learn about the...

The Great Orangutan Project - A Volunteer's Perspective

The Great Orangutan Project - A Volunteer's Perspective

Our volunteer Gaynor decided to visit Borneo with her two...

How Volunteering With Animals In Namibia Will Change Your Life!

How Volunteering With Animals In Namibia Will Change Your Life!

Ever considered volunteering with animals? An increasingly...

Human - Wildlife Conflict In Namibia

Human - Wildlife Conflict In Namibia

Human-wildlife conflict has significantly increased over...


Signup to our newsletter

Please read our Privacy Policy
Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 9BX
United Kingdom
Opening hours: 9am–5pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987

Foreign Office Travel Advice