What a morning! One we will never forget! This final introduction in the initial integration of Phabeni into the herd was full of interesting elephant behaviour to read and had no shortage of chaos. Phabeni had already met several of the elephants but this was his first time with Tokwe, Khanyisa, Fishan, Kumbura, Limpopo, Pisa, Mambo and Zindoga. It was his first time with all of the elephants, with no barrier, trunk to trunk. Here’s what we can deduce:

Setombe: A complete surprise! Setombe is claiming Phabeni as her baby. Never in a million years did we expect her to do this. She has never shown interest in calves in this way, only her own daughter, Klaserie has ever received her affections and undying support as a mother. But it is clear that Setombe is ready to be a mother once more. She is showing us all a completely different side to her personality, one that we haven’t seen outside of her relationship with Klaserie. Time will tell if Lundi competes with her to take on the role of mother or whether Setombe makes her stand for the new baby. She is the dominant female and eldest in the herd after all and might have the power to claim Phabeni.

Klaserie: She is typically rough with babies, but it all comes from a sweet and caring place. She is ever curious and so overly keen to engage with Phabeni, offer him support, by standing over him, even if she knocks him over with her trunk. She is no good at letting him suckle but boy will she keep trying.

Sebakwe: This dominant bull in the herd, and best friend to Setombe, is offering great calm to the new dynamic, stepping in to seemingly settle everyone down, the way Tokwe does. Bulls of Sebakwe’s age aren’t typically still faced with calves since they leave the matriarchal breeding herd in their teens, but this is no ordinary herd and Sebakwe will likely be a role model in the life of Phabeni.

Somopane: This big bull is happy to settle into the background when there is a lot of activity but he is also equally prepared to be the amazing mentor and disciplinarian that he is and step in to put bulls in their place. We expect Somopane will play a big role in the life of Phabeni over the years. He is a solid, peace-making influence among the more reactive females in the herd and Phabeni will find a safe harbour beside his legs.

Tokwe: Solid like a rock. This incredible matriarch showed her amazing fortitude and dependability in this first introduction to Phabeni. She responded with enthusiasm but was sure to keep a watch over everyone at all times, and to offer support on the sidelines. Tokwe is always ready to take in a new baby and will likely be very attentive to Phabeni’s needs over the coming months and years.

Khanyisa: Well, she sure got her kicks in today. Between not wanting to leave Adine’s side and wanting to knock out the new baby, Khanyisa didn’t really seem to know what to do. This is totally new to her. Not only is she no longer the smallest in the herd, and the apple of everyone’s eye, but she also has to learn to socialise with the smallest elephant she has ever met. We don’t doubt that she will adapt and in time welcome Phabeni. She simply needs to get used to him and to be able to safely suss him out. Once the herd and Phabeni are walking in the bush, there will be less intense activity around the new bull and Khanyisa can more calmly get to know him the way she got to know and love Timisa.

Fishan: Fishan is always a loving father figure for the young ones in the herd and showed his interest in Phabeni in this introduction beautifully as he joined the females, walking up and down with the little calf on the move. Fishan will likely give Phabeni great support in the homestead and in the bush over the next months and years, and be a constant in his life, the way he is with Timisa. Fishan has always helped Tokwe with nanny duties and is well equipped to help Setombe or Lundi with Phabeni too.

Timisa: Like Khanyisa, this young female was ready with her back-kicks, as she tried to navigate the introduction to a new baby. It must be very confusing and will certainly take time to get used to, but Phabeni isn’t going anywhere. Timisa is good at offering friendship and companionship to other youngsters as she did with Khanyisa, but she is always prepared to let you know when you’ve overstepped the line or when your presence is infringing on her own enjoyment. Hopefully she keeps those feet down and lets Phabeni in.

Kumbura: This amazing allomother will show her stripes clearly in this moments with Phabeni, now and in coming months. Not only was she clearly engaged in getting to know Phabeni here, but she was clear on stopping Khanyisa from hurting the new baby. Kumbura has the kindest heart and is always ready to serve and protect the youngest and most vulnerable. No doubt she feels she has a responsibility to keep Khanyisa in line, since she is possibly the most dutiful allomother to the calf. Phabeni is safe with Kumbura around!

Limpopo: Like Klaserie, Limpopo wants to be on the scene, part of the chaos, immersed in the experience. She is very excited by Phabeni’s presence and does her best to touch and smell him whenever she is allowed to. Left to her own devices, Limpopo would squeeze his little trunk till he screamed, but fortunately the other elephants are there to keep her under wraps. She also comes from a place of love, and just wants to accept and welcome Phabeni with an uproar of emotion, bells and whistles.

Pisa: Pisa is much like the young bulls, Mambo and Zindoga, and never overly interested in new babies. As they get a bit older, she suffers bouts of jealousy and will demonstrate this with intercepting the babies or throwing them a back-kick. But in time, she might really come to love Phabeni, perhaps especially since he is a bull. She sees herself as one of the boys, when she’s not trying to lead her herd like a mini matriarch. She hasn’t given Phabeni much time yet, but let’s watch how things unfold.

Zindoga: For a brief moment, this young bull shows interest in the baby being followed around by everyone in the herd and joins the group on the move. But overall, he’s not too preturbed in this first introduction. Zindoga is a more friendly bull compared to fellow young one Mambo, and might take Phabeni in as a little chum once they walk together in the wilderness. We really can’t wait to see what might grow here as Zindoga has plenty of potential to be a dear role model or friend for young Phabeni.

Bubi: Bubi is very excited and taken by this new arrival, but she isn’t one to join in group activities and so stays out of the huddle around Phabeni mostly, in this occasion. She is clearly eager though to get to know him and stays close, watching from the outskirts. When allowed to meet him in a calmer, less crazed setting, when the others are out roaming, Bubi might really take a liking to this new baby. We are excited to see how she might react to him. She might however still be enamoured with young Khanyisa and continue to point her affections toward the female calf in the herd.

Mambo: Was Mambo even present today? This growing bull is too cool to even save Tigere from approaching lions, let alone get himself worked up over a silly little baby. He’s seen plenty of those out in the bush, and has no desire to get closer until he absolutely has to. Well, Mambo, what if Lundi takes Phabeni in? You might have a younger brother on your hands.

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  1. Adine this synopsis is so beautiful! I too am surprised by Phabeni picking Setombe to be his mama. Yet I feel she has earned her chance at raising another little one (especially a little feisty bull) Sebakwe’s support of her in two different videos tells me she will claim him as her own with his complete support. These two older and dominant ellies have the respect of the entire herd…and hoping their decision to release Phabeni to Setombe occurs. It would make sense to me that once he is released to the homestead…being in a stall with Setombe and Sebakwe is the safest place for him. Given Setombe’s wrestless nature it just makes sense. I would give anything to know your feelings on this…as you are the expert…and your opinion is greatly respected! In closing, I must shower Kumbura with love and excess respect for her beyond stellar instincts in keeping the babies safe at all costs! She is expert in her position…and I couldn’t love her more! I currently sponsor baby Beni monthly, and fully intend to do the same with Setombe and Kumbura as this little bulls life begins. Adine because of you…I see mother nature and all her beautiful creatures in a new light, and when I share with others they also open their hearts! You are a angel among us…I wish for you Peace, Love, and Eternal blessings..for all you have given in this world! You shine BRIGHTLY in a often dark world….

  2. Thanks for the wonderful video. Incredible animals. It sure looks like they are well cared for and loved.

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