Khanyisa is a rare albino elephant calf that was found trapped in a snare with severe injuries, in January 2020. Her wounds indicated that she had been trying desperately to free herself for a few days. She had severe lacerations across her neck and cheeks and the top of her right ear was cut. She was alone, with no sign of her herd anywhere.
From the beginning, Khanyisa settled in quickly at HERD, with Lammie, our loyal resident companion sheep. Feeding her was more complicated than usual due to her mouth injuries, but the team managed to find the correct angles for feeding her successfully.
Our elephant care team, together with wildlife veterinarian Dr. Peter Rogers, worked tirelessly for three months to ensure the calf’s wounds were treated and healed successfully.
At the end of April, once her wounds had fully healed, the gradual integration with the herd began, starting with Jabulani, then Lundi and eventually the entire herd. Lundi was chosen as Khanyisa’s adoptive mother and took on the role beautifully.
Khanyisa has gone from strength to strength since her rescue. Her wounds have healed and her bonds with the herd have deepened naturally. She spends sunrise to sunset out in the wild of the reserve with the elephants, and returns to the orphanage for the night. She will remain dependent on milk formula from our carers until she is weaned at approximately four to six years of age.
This special elephant gets her name from her unique appearance as an albino, as Khanyisa means “Light” or “Sunshine” in the local Shona language. As an albino, Khanyisa is more visible in the bush, especially when she has no sand or mud on her body – and is thus susceptible to attacks by predators. Her skin and eyes are also means more sensitive to light. Fortunately, she is in the care of her new herd and our team, helping her to overcome the obstacle facing her.
Khanyisa continues to be a ray of light to us and many of her loyal supporters around the world!