PICS & VIDEO: This is how an elephant orphanage cares for and rehabilitates calves



Published May 27, 2021


DURBAN - The Jabulani elephant orphanage provides orphaned elephant calves with the care and protection that they would usually get from a herd.

The orphanage lies adjacent to the Jabulani Herd stables on the Kapama Private Game Reserve in Hoedspruit, Limpopo.

Jabulani was built close to the Jabulani elephant herd for staff to easily assess and integrate each baby elephant according to their individual emotional needs.

The orphanage, through Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development (HERD), was completed in 2019 to address the growing number of orphaned and displaced elephant calves due to poaching and land conflict (man versus elephant).

Orphaned elephant calves are given a unique adoptive family structure at the dedicated elephant orphanage which includes other orphaned elephants, people, sheep, dogs, and blankets.

Albino baby elephant, Khanyisa covered in a green blanket alongside her companion sheep, named Lammie. Picture: Supplied.

“The unusual family structure of the Jabulani Herd, the majority of which are orphans themselves, presents a unique solution for orphaned baby elephants in Southern Africa that vitally need to find a second herd to ensure their emotional well-being and survival,” said the orphanage.

Albino baby elephant, Khanyisa, who is pink in colour with blonde tail hairs and trunk whiskers as well as a white-blue eye, is one of the orphans at Jabulani.

“From the time she arrived, as that tiny round pink ball of elephant, our carers have been sure to be the herd Khanyisa so desperately needed. They have followed her about with an umbrella before the elephants could step in and take their place as shade-keepers, and they have wrapped and unwrapped a blanket around her every nippy breezy morning and chilly, stormy night,” the orphanage said.

Inside her nursery at night, red lights provide further warmth as does the company of a carer or a sheep as a companion, said the orphanage.

According to Jabulani, orphan elephants are covered with blankets during their rehabilitation phases, while at an orphanage and as they start to integrate into a new herd.

“This isn’t because they lack a coat of their own to keep warm but because what they lack is the protection of their herd – those grand bodies shielding them from wind and rain. Those great shadows giving them shade in the harsh African sun.”

The orphanage further explained that the older members in the herd are much stronger, less fragile and could handle the weather conditions in the wilderness.

However, baby elephants are much more delicate and vulnerable and could develop illnesses from being exposed.

“Khanyisa has had many different blankets since arriving in January 2020 and it all started with a little green jumper, knitted for Khanyisa by Jabulani 's head of housekeeping, Tannie Ansie, who has worked at the lodge and been part of our family for many years.”

Over a year later, Khanyisa has doubled in size from 124 kg to over 315 kg.

“After some time, we decided to purchase more options for her, and to allow us to wash her blankets and alternate.”

The orphanage said the blankets are not only providers of warmth, but offer the comfort of a mother’s touch, the feeling of having those giant legs and long wandering trunks around them.

“They are mom’s embrace and also, we have seen with Khanyisa… a great way to monitor her growth.”

The orphanage said when Khanyisa first arrived, a blanket would drape over her like a big curtain while a blanket now barely covers her midriff.

“We are so grateful for the many hearts and hands that have played a role in this journey thus far and helped to don our braveheart with blankets of beauty that speak to her whimsical warrior spirit!”

Khanyisa covered in Enid Elmar's blanket. Picture: Supplied.

Khanyisa meeting her herd. Picture: Supplied

Carers Josiah, Joshua and Tigere. Picture: Supplied

Albino baby elephant, Khanyisa covered in a zebra print blanket. Picture: Supplied.

Adine Roode, MD and owner of Jabulani with elephant carers celebrating with new WAW-donated blankets and beanies. Picture: Supplied.

Albino baby elephant, Khanyisa covered in a green blanket alongside her companion sheep, named Lammie. Picture: Supplied.

Albino baby elephant, Khanyisa covered in a green blanket alongside her companion sheep, named Lammie. Picture: Supplied.

Albino baby elephant, Khanyisa covered in a WAW-donated blanket. Picture: Supplied.


Related Topics: