Clips of the moment began circulating online over the weekend and have since racked up millions of views – skyrocketing Kaunda and the curious young elephant to viral fame. The brief interaction between the reporter and the subject delighted viewers and left many admiring Kaunda’s ability to keep his cool for as long as he did. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trusta non-profit organization that runs the orphanage, identified the elephant like Kindania 4-year-old girl who was rescued in April 2018.
“The baby elephant disturbing a TV reporter is the best part of today”, tweeted a Twitter user, who shared a video of the exchange that had more than 11.8 million views on Wednesday.
For Kaunda, it all started as another day at work.
The Kenya Broadcasting Corp reporter. was on assignment at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage, according to Kenyans.co.ke. Kenya has been battling its worst drought in four decades, and local officials say the extreme weather is killing 20 times more elephants than poaching. A recent report released by the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife revealed that more than a thousand animals died due to drought, including wildebeest, zebra, elephant and buffalo.
Kaunda told a Kenyan local radio that he knew he wanted to set up a shooting at the orphanage where he would talk in front of the elephants. But he was struggling to complete his report and had already attempted 10 takes, all unsuccessful.
“I had kept my distance, but I was so focused that I didn’t even realize they were getting closer,” he said.
At the start of what would become the viral moment, Kaunda, dressed in a red and navy T-shirt and jacket, can be seen standing among several reddish-brown elephants clutching a microphone bearing the KBC logo in his hand. In the background, Kindani has her trunk draped over the back of one of the other elephants.
“Let’s go,” said a faint voice off camera.
With a quick breath, Kaunda focuses his gaze on the camera and begins.
“They say charity starts at home,” Kaunda says, his expression serious, “and for these young orphan elephants, this charitable foundation is what they call home.”
He briefly looks away from the camera when one of the elephants appears to be pushing the side of his body with his head, but he doesn’t falter. Instead, he places a gentle hand on the elephant’s head and continues, seemingly determined to get a usable hold.
Kindani, however, now directly behind him, seems to have other plans.
“And with the increasing cases of drought, it’s up to us to be stewards of our own natural world,” Kaunda says, ignoring the elephant trunk peering into his ear. It moves up his head before moving down to the center of his face, forcing Kaunda to close his eyes as he valiantly continues to speak.
But when Kindani’s trunk starts groping around his nose and mouth, the reporter gives up. Letting out a high-pitched laugh, he squirms, shooting laughs off camera as the elephant quickly draws its trunk.
On social media, the interaction, which lasted less than a minute, quickly captivated people around the world.
“Most of us would have lost our professionalism much sooner!” the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust tweeted. “An important piece about the drought, but our orphans just saw a visitor to investigate!”
Kindani “knows exactly what she intends to do”, the organization added in another tweet, responding to a Twitter user who pointed to the elephant’s eyes moments before she approached Kaunda. “The side eye is often a precursor to cheeky behavior.”
Faced with the willful elephant, many viewers were impressed by Kaunda’s determination.
“I’m amazed how long this reporter was able to keep his cool,” one person said. tweeted. “I would have started laughing at first contact.”
Another Twitter user applauded the journalist for his “incredible professional control”.
“The reporter stayed the course until it was no longer possible to do so,” the person wrote. “I’m glad he laughed at the end, it made my heart feel good.”
In the interview with the Kenyan radio station, Kaunda described the trunk as “ticklish”, saying: “[I] I just tried to keep my cool.
“It actually had no smell,” he said. “I’m sure if there was a foul smell it would have really distracted me. It wasn’t normal, but I liked the experience.
Kaunda, who calls himself as a “wildlife enthusiast”, said he hopes to experience more of these encounters, adding that he aims to “get closer” to several species of animals. “So far, there are only two left; the lion and the leopard.