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At the Wild Is Life and IFAW-supported Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery, the majority of our rescued elephants are found abandoned or hurt and transported to our center for specialised care. This time around, things were surprisingly different.
Early one evening in mid-July the resident rescue herd at the Wild is Life-IFAW release site at Panda Masuie clustered together showing great interest in something in the forest outside of their boma (home). A wild elephant herd perhaps, or even lion? All eyes were on the interaction zone. The elephants and their handlers watched as minutes ticked by, then half-an-hour. Then, to everyone’s shock, a very young elephant calf stood in the clearing. He was all alone, with no herd in sight.
“We were convinced his mother was nearby. Only in the most extreme circumstances will a matriarch abandon her calf,” says Jos Danckwerts, Project Manager.
The team opened the gate and let the elephants outside of their boma to greet the little calf. Matriarchs Nora, Annabelle and Nkanyezi slowly approached first, with the rest of the herd following. In a beautiful moment unlike any other, the herd gently comforted the calf and walked him back to the boma surrounded by love and support.
Within 24hrs, the little calf was drinking milk from a bucket and eating food from the handlers and by the second day was already drinking milk from a bottle. The elephant is about eight months old. He is in good health and has received the name Moses. By retracing the calf’s tracks in the forest, the team found that Moses walked at least four kilometers alone from Zambezi National Park. We don’t know what happened to Moses’s herd or how he found his way to us, but we are incredibly happy to have him. Little Moses is quite the popular calf at Panda Masuie. The elephants love spending time with him and he has grown very comfortable as a new member of the herd already joining them on their daily walks in the bush. Moses will remain in our care at Panda Masuie and like all the rescue elephants will eventually depart of his own accord to live free as a wild elephant.
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