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On several occasions, Nania has observed the wild herds and watched as individual elephants travel by her enclosure. At first, she was startled and scared of the wild herds, but now she is calm and does not run away. We are hoping that Nania's comfort and curiosity will grow to the point where she is eager to meet the wild elephants up close.
In October 2020, we shipped 17 test tubes to a conservation biology center at the University of Washington in Seattle. After four months of patiently waiting, we finally received the results. Nania is most likely the daughter of the elephant who produced dung sample 21!
The DNA analysis also confirmed a second key piece of information: Nania and her herd are forest elephants. The majority of forest elephants have long been thought to live in the Congo Basin in Central Africa, but Nania’s DNA results and similar research prove that the species’ range extends to the Sahel countries where they live alongside savannah elephants. With this new knowledge, the search for Nania’s family becomes a part of an even larger story. Nania carries hope for the survival of her species. Her release back into the wild and reunion with her herd holds the potential for more genetic diversity and stronger populations of wild forest elephants.
Our team has exciting news from the field: we recently spotted wild elephant herds passing through the forest! Why does this matter? Our goal is to unite Nania with her natal herd and there's a high chance that they are somewhere nearby.
IFAW's Céline Sissler-Bienvenu is hoping to find Nania's family with the help of something surprising: elephant dung! By collecting the dung of wild elephants and sending it to a lab for testing, we can compare Nania's DNA with that of nearby herds to see if there's a match.
Wherever Nania goes, Whisty the sheep isn't too far behind! You wouldn't guess that an elephant and a sheep have much in common, but the surprising duo have become the best of friends. We recently moved Nania (and Whisty) to a new site in Deux Balés National Park, farther away from local villages. At this new home, Nania will be able to explore her surroundings and better develop the skills needed to fully return to the wild. So far, the transition to this new project site has gone smoothly! Nania is loving her daily walks in the forest and enjoys playing in the water while Whisty watches from land.
Nania was just three months old when she lost her herd and wandered into a village in Burkina Faso. Determined to help the little calf, families and school children generously pooled together funds to provide food and care for Nania in the immediate days after her rescue. Realizing that the elephant would need professional care, local authorities reached out to IFAW for support. We hired four specialized caretakers (Idrissa, Souleymane, Salif and Abdoulaye) and created a long-term rehabilitation plan to help Nania return to the wild.
Caring for a young elephant is no simple task. Nania required around the clock attention, comfort from her caretakers, and feedings every three hours. With help from dedicated supporters, we raised the funds needed to purchase much-needed resources for Nania and are ready to embark on her journey together.
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