Some extraordinary news is revealed from Carer Last in these scenes! The day starts with Lammie and Nungu as Khanyisa gets her morning milk bottles in the nursery from Carer Reply, and then it’s off to the bush with the elephants! Khanyisa and Kumbura are side by side, as they often are, with Lundi close by. Tokwe and her daughter Limpopo forage in the distance with Zindoga also hanging around the females. There is some beautiful morning light that shows the silhouettes of the elephants and Khanyisa’s soft chin fuzz.
Last explains that he recently found one of Khanyisa’s first molars on the ground by her and has taken it home for safe keeping. Last loves spending time with the babies in the herd and is very perceptive when it comes to different behaviours and apparently… lost teeth! Calves lose their first set of four molars at around two to three years of age (Khanyisa is two currently, turning three in September).
These teeth are replaced by new molars as the old ones are worn down — as elephants go through six sets of chewing teeth in their lifetime. With the amount of food elephants need to eat every day, their teeth wear down relatively quickly. New teeth develop from the back, pushing forward horizontally. When a tooth wears down due to years of grinding, a new molar pushes forward to replace it.
Last also reveals the new dynamic forming in the herd! While Kumbura began her early days of integration into the herd in 2009 with Tokwe as her foster mother, and Tokwe’s daughters, Limpopo and Pisa as part of a close knit group, Kumbura — now 13 years of age – appears to be choosing new life partners, as Last puts it. Because of her relationship with Khanyisa, Kumbura has been spending more and more time with Lundi, Khanyisa’s foster mom, and choosing to move in closer to her and her son, Mambo than she ever has before. The four now spend a lot of time together when they are out grazing and walking. Kumbura will clearly do anything to stay by Khanyisa’s side as this is a very special bond for both the orphans, and as such Kumbura appears to be choosing Lundi, born 1989, as her new foster mom. Kumbura has stepped into the role of allomother so well and with great dedication and passion and seems to have found the family group she was always meant to have.
It takes a herd to raise a calf, not only one mother, and as much as there are groups and certain dynamics within a herd, the overall holistic connections within a herd are just as important. We know Tokwe will always be there for Kumbura and any orphan or elephant in need, but she also has her hands full as Matriarch, mother to two, and foster mom to Timisa. As the elephants age and develop, many changes will take place. We look forward to witnessing and sharing these with you!