Nature is full of unpredictable surprises. And there are few things more heart-warming to watch than the unlikely friendships and bonds of two completely different species in the wild.
In 2014, two ostrich chicks were bestowed upon the world-renowned wildlife organisation The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. These two sibling chicks, a female named Pea and a male named Pod, grew up with the orphaned elephants that the Trust look after, before releasing them into the wild when they are strong enough to look after themselves.
Although both ostriches got on well with the orphaned elephants, regular trips were taken onto the Nairobi Park plains to give both Pea and Pod the opportunity to mingle with other wild ostriches. Because of this, there was no cause for concern when Pod did not return to the main camp one day, which left the keepers confident that he had joined his fellow big birds, and even sighted him a while later.
Pea, on the other hand, was a lot more keen to stay with the little elephants, who she had grown up with, and therefore were the only family that she had ever truly known. Their bond was a heartwarming one, with Pea shepherding the babies, and keeping them safe and warm by spreading her wings over them.The inter-species friendship could even be seen as Pea thinking that she was part of the baby elephant herd.
Pea was admired by everyone who saw her, including the elephants, and the sight of an ostrich acting like an elephant, even down to sharing mud and dust baths, was a truly heartwarming sight to see.
But unfortunately, disaster was just around the corner, which is always a danger with animals living in the wild, and a natural way of life.
On the 25th November, Pea was finding food in the forest with her elephant herd when suddenly the babies were startled by three Nairobi Park lions who were chasing some impala nearby. The act of this dispersed the herd, including Pea.
After the lions had passed on, the keepers rounded up all of the elephants, but could not locate Pea. Concerns grew and they continued searching for her, but catastrophe had already struck when the keepers came to a glade and found the lions feasting on their kill, and it was confirmed whilst they got close in their vehicle that the lions had killed Pea.
This tragic news was felt by all who knew her, including those who had seen the remarkable photos of her bond with her elephants online. She will be very missed, but she is a sure sign of just how beautiful nature can be, and how the most unlikely of friends can live in such harmony with one another.
All photographs are copyright of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.