Little by little, that’s how progress happens. Little by little, that’s how you raise a baby elephant orphan. Phabeni has come a long way since he was first rescued and brought to HERD. He has accepted the help of his human carers and come to know Lammie as more than a target to chase. He took to milk bottles well at first but then his appetite and bowel movements changed. He skipped some milk feeds and had loose stools.
During the first week, there were normal staff changes and so Phabeni had to get used to meeting new carers. It was important that he not get overly attached to one carer, and rather bond with a few, so that should that one carer be on leave, others can step in to look after the calf. Most important for us has been getting our new orphan through the fragile first two weeks as he settles in, as the adrenaline of what he’s been through drops.
We started Phabeni on a basic milk formula to stabilise him at first and then started introducing more protein and fat but this often upsets the gut and is the reason that we don’t add this from the start. As we increase and alter ingredients in his milk formula to ensure that he gets all he needs, Phabeni needs time to adapt to the changes. Adine has been tweaking the formula so that it is both tasty for Phabeni and full of the right and adequate nutrition. Dr Rogers visited to administer another drip to Phabeni, to top the little elephant up with extra nutrients, while his stools were loose and his milk intake unstable.
We are happy to say that Phabeni is drinking his milk bottles again and that his stools are harder, which is an excellent development, but he has experienced some bloating which can cause discomfort. We are monitoring this closely, with our experts and wildlife vets always a phone call away.
The Next Step
After spending time getting used to the private garden in the quarantine nursery, Phabeni was invited into the bigger garden, which is bordered by the homestead and wilderness. It took the calf some time to take the first step out of his comfort zone and once he did, well, it was time for a nap! It’s exhausting being this courageous! We are careful to take Phabeni’s development slowly to ensure that he is not stressed. Elephant calves are especially fragile and as an orphan, Phabeni has already been through a lot of upheaval in his short life. All things considered, he is handling this journey incredibly well.
A Morning With Baby Elephant, Orphan Phabeni in His Nursery & Private Garden
In this video below, Adine takes us on her morning visit to check in on new orphan, Phabeni. Joshua and Reply are at the orphanage, helping to look after the little elephant, and provide him with milk bottles and “shit shakes”, which include elephant dung, plus fresh grass. Herman cleans the nursery as Phabeni enjoys outdoor time in his garden, splashing and bonding with Adine. He is certainly a playful and strong young calf, with the most beautiful eyes. Enjoy close ups of his sweet face as Adine feeds and plays with him on this sunny morning.
The Cutest Cuddles with Baby Elephant Phabeni & His Human Mother
Tactile communication is extremely important to elephants, and so touch is a vital part of their rehabilitation. The carers and Adine touch Phabeni to bond with him, soothe him, and communicate with him. In this video below, Phabeni takes touching to a whole new level, showing us that he’s becoming much more comfortable at the orphanage.
Phabeni has let our human herd get close to him which is important as touch is an elephant’s love language. Touch from his human carers provides the calf with the sensations and closeness that his mother would have given him. It takes time to gain the trust of an elephant. We are slowly working our way toward greater trust between Phabeni and us.
Phabeni has shown a beautiful calmness and confidence already, finding his way in his orphanage home. We are taking each step day by day, little by little. And we’re sure to celebrate even the small successes. We are so grateful for all of you who are following Phabeni’s progress and thank you for caring so much already for this new little member of the HERD family.