Dear Nungu

Today I have to say goodbye… as Stavros said, ‘Goodbye to my friend’. You enriched many lives. 

You arrived in 2014 and followed Heidi, the first sheep friend of Zeta, the rescued zebra. Zeta arrived at HESC (Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre) in 2010 as she was caught in a snare. Heidi was her first companion sheep and then Nungu joined Zeta and took over Heidi’s position. 

Nungu and Zeta were extremely attached, with Nungu offering so much support and comfort as the zebra’s surrogate family. Granted, it was not always a smooth relationship. Once Zeta kicked Nungu, breaking her lower jaw, but Nungu was always loyal. Zeta was introduced to a new zebra friend – a hings (a male zebra), and Nungu’s duty in escorting Zeta and keeping her company came to an end.

Nungu stayed at HESC though, and from time to time, she would join a new rhino orphan or poaching victim, to provide much-needed company. Nungu was never very attracted to rhinos though, and always kept her distance. She retired officially in 2019.

Nungu and her orphan zebra friend, Zeta

As Khanyisa was spending more time in the bush and Lammie was lonely, and waiting for Khanyisa’s arrival at the gate ever so patiently, I decided to move Nungu to HERD, to join Lammie in 2021. Nungu spent her twilight years at HERD orphanage in the company of Lammie and for some time also joined Lammie and Khanyisa in the orphanage during the night. When Khanyisa graduated and left the orphanage to join Tokwe, Limpopo and the rest of the elephants at night in the homestead, Nungu and Lammie comforted each other. They browsed, walked, ate and slept together. They were companions and so content in each others company.

Last week, HESC received a baby rhino orphan, named Peter, and a new baby sheep, Pepper joined the little rhino. Pepper was very small and would “mê” (baaaa) a lot when people left her side. This was upsetting to Peter the rhino and wildlife vet, Dr Peter Rogers asked that a bigger and older sheep was brought in. Nungu would be perfect as she was calm and would make Pepper the sheep calmer around little Peter. Unfortunately Peter was not happy with the two sheep and attacked and stormed them while they were on the other side of the fence. Although Nungu was calm, she didn’t really have the energy to bond with Pepper.

When it started to rain and my son Xander escorted the sheep into the little house under the roof, to be protected from the rain, Nungu was unable to move or walk herself, and so he carried her. I had known for a long time that Nungu was at the end of her life, and her time was getting shorter by the day. It was still a difficult decision to let her go. She was part of our family at HERD, but she was tired. The rhino company would not be good for her.

Nungu had clearly come to the end of her journey – her journey as a friend, mom, and companion to the animals in our care. It was incredibly sad to say goodbye to Nungu this week, but we knew that the old gal was no longer strong and healthy. She had lost a lot of condition. Next to Lammie, we could especially see the difference. I had to make a call, for Nungu, I had to listen to her body. It had reached its limits.

Thank you, Nungu for being a friend and mom to those who had lost theirs. We will miss you and will cherish the moments you shared with all of us. 

When we look up into the sky at night, your star will shine brightly.

Watch these Nungu Moments on YouTube

The beginning of a beautiful friendsheep, Lammie and Nungu, elephant carers and legends >

Sunset with the Whole Herd & Pink Ears Khanyisa | Plus special Lammie & Nungu time >

Garden play time with sheep friends, Lammie, Nungu & baby elephant, Khanyisa >

Some of the Last Few Moments between Khanyisa & Her Sheep Friends – Lammie & Nungu >

The Morning of Khanyisa’s Last Night at the Elephant Orphanage! Her Sheep Pals Are Close By >

A Health Update on Nungu the Sheep, Surrogate Mother to Elephants & Rhinos >

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  1. so, so sorry for your (our) lost… but you did what was the best for her.
    thank you so much nungu! I’ll miss you a lot!

  2. So, so sorry for your(our) lost… but you did what was better for her…
    I’ll miss you, Nungu… Thank you so much for everything you did!

  3. Thank you, Adine, for that beautiful letter in tribute to Nungu. These precious animals. They are sent to us like angels, and now she returns to be with the angels after a life well lived. God bless Nungu and the wonderful animals and people of HERD.❤️🙏😘

  4. Wonderful write up about the life of a friend. Like all animals, they leave us too soon. Her hoof has left a print on our hearts, and her memory will live on

  5. My condolences to Adine, Carers, and the HERD elephant family. I’m please and thankful to Nungu for taking care of sweet Khanysia when she arrived at the Orphanage and you took care of her and kept her company even during the night so she wouldn’t get scared. I know you are now at peace and have received your wings and will continue to watch over sweet Khanysia and every other animal that comes to need help to get better and to survive too. God bless you and also God’s blessings and HIS arms wrapped around a Adine and sweet Khanysia always. Sue M Florida,USA ❤️🙏

  6. Each day I read about the HERD activities of which Nungu played a part….a precious part. She was a calming and protective influence for her adopted family. She lived each day to care for others and, finally, when she could no longer do that, others cared for her. Never an easy decision to say goodbye to a dear friend. She is on to her next job…and will be reunited with all who loved her through the years.

  7. good bye nungu.. you are missed by so many good souls…but you shine like a star in their memories ⭐❤️

  8. Adine, you said it beautifully. What a special job Nungu had and did so well. Nurse, mother, companion and friend to all.
    Rest peacefully now Nungu – love to you all.
    Lammie will miss you so much too. <3

  9. This is heartbreaking and I know a terribly hard decision to make. What a special home Nungu has had and contributed to the healing and love there. My heart goes out to all of HERD. Thank you for the incredible work you are doing. May Nungu be at PEACE. ❤️

  10. Beautiful Tribute to Darling Nungu. She served her “charges” so well and I think she loved these latter years with Sweet Lammie. She was so loved and cared for but clearly, it was time for her to “go home” We shall always love and miss Nungu but she will be restored to full vigour now. I am concerned about Lammie. Is it possible she might have a companion? Thank You Adine. 🧡🐑🧡🙏

  11. Farewell dearest Nungu, what a life well lived! So many will dearly miss you. Thank you for everything you did to help all those who needed your kindness and friendship. Godspeed, Nungu.

  12. Goodbye Sweetest Nungu,
    Nungu, you will be missed greatly. The very short time I have watched you on video with Herd has been wonderful. I loved your personality. You seemed to me to have quite the sense of humor, making me laugh out loud many times. If one of the others (human or animal) approached you and you’d rather they not eat or stand in your space you simply turned your back, oh wait first you gave them a look like must you? Then you would simply walk away, a few times I would see you take a quick glance back to see if following but you would sneak that glance as if you didn’t want anyone to know. I think maybe sometimes you wanted them to follow as a game. I fell in love with you and your presence will be so missed when watching Herd video’s Anyone who had become a friend to you will surely cherish the memories. Farewell

  13. iam from India. I love all your kind activities.and people of HERD…it’s so sad tht nungu was very weak at her life’s last stage..but couldn’t we provide her a age shelter near khaniysa room? iam sorry it hurts me to know tht she was put to sleep and did not die naturally. I’m in lot of tears.

    1. She was clearly in pain and we felt it cruel to let her suffer. It is such a sad experience for us all to have had to go through, but we know that each life eventually comes to an end, and we have to celebrate every moment on earth that we can. and that we have together.

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