This is the moment an albino baby elephant frolics in the mud and gets milk from its adoptive mother at South Africa’s first dedicated elephant orphanage.
Rescued elephant calf Khanyisa is cared for by experts and its adoptive herd at the Kapama Private Game Reserve in the South African province of Limpopo.
Tamlin Wightman told Newsflash about HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development), Khanyisa, and the Jabulani herd saying: “HERD is South Africa’s first dedicated elephant orphanage, located on the grounds of Jabulani in the Kapama Private Game Reserve.
“Our purpose is to care for and rehabilitate orphaned and displaced elephant calves and ultimately integrate them into a new herd of elephants.”
With the growing numbers of orphans and displaced elephant calves in recent years, as a result of increasing numbers of poaching of elephant mothers as well as man v elephant land conflict, Adine Roode, HERD Founder, took the step to build a dedicated elephant orphanage to provide a unique adoptive family structure for baby elephants in need.
Wightman said: “The orphanage was purposefully built close to the Jabulani herd of elephants, a very special herd consisting of predominantly rescued orphaned elephants. Due to their shared backgrounds, these elephants are unique in their ability to create bonds that exceed the bounds of blood and, as a result, are very much open to accepting new orphans into their family.
“Khanyisa, an orphaned albino calf, came into HERD’s care in January 2020. She had been found at four months old, alone and entrapped in a poacher’s snare, with no herd in sight.
“She had suffered horrific wounds as a result, including severe lacerations to her neck, ear, cheeks and the top of her head. Under the care of our veterinarian team and dedicated elephant carers, Khanyisa was able to recover from her wounds and also receives milk from a bottle, fed to her by our carers.”
Since then, Khanyisa has been slowly integrating into the Jabulani herd of elephants and now spends all day foraging in the wilderness with them, walking through the private Big 5 reserve with carers offering protection and support.
Although sucking from her adoptive mother, her main source of milk remains the bottles that she is provided by her human carers.
Wightman told Newsflash: “She has formed amazing bonds with the elephants of the herd, particularly with her new adoptive mother Lundi, her allomothers Bubi and Tokwe, and Kumbura and Timisa, two other orphaned elephants who have been fully integrated into the herd.
“At the end of each day, Khanyisa comes back to the orphanage to spend the night in the company of her companion sheep Lammie and Nungu and receive her milk bottles from her carers throughout the night.”
Wightman added: “She gets a milk bottle every three hours and will be reliant on us for milk until being fully weaned at around four or five years old.”