We are so excited to welcome Willinton Mafogo as HERD’s new Junior Carer!

Willinton is new to the team and an already valuable HERD member, a kind, dedicated, and enthusiastic carer to Khanyisa. Willinton spends most of his time with the calf and the pair have already formed a beautiful bond.

It’s vital to have more than one carer tending to an orphan as elephant calves bond so deeply with the people that help take care of them. When carers change shifts or take leave, we need to ensure the calves like Khanyisa aren’t impacted emotionally by the temporary absence of their caregiver.

Willinton joins Khensani, Reply and Herman at the orphanage as nursery carers, heading out into the bush sometimes but not all day like the older elephants’ carers. Our team of carers rotate shifts, with Joshua and Liverson stepping in for day or night duties at the orphanage too. It certainly takes a big herd of humans to care for even one little elephant.

Welcome to the human herd, Willinton!

We asked Willinton to tell us a little more about himself and his journey with HERD so far:

My name is Willinton and I’m a Junior Carer at HERD. The place I call home when I’m not at HERD is a village outside Tzaneen in South Africa. My interest and hobbies are travelling, excursions and hiking. I’ve also completed a wildlife photography course and enjoy taking photos.

I have always loved animals as I grew up having a few domestic animals in the family. My passion for wildlife started in 2007 when I was 14 years old and was invited to go to an organisation that teaches people about wildlife and interacts with them for a period of five days. Since then, I have known I wanted to work with animals and even had the opportunity to work with a baby elephant for a couple of months in 2019.

My love for animals led me to work at HERD…

My job includes maintaining good hygiene for the young elephant, ensuring that the young elephant is doing well, reporting on the wellbeing of the young elephant, preparing milk, bottle feeding, and going to the bush with the elephants.

When I first met Khanyisa, it was incredibly sad to see how humans can be cruel to this vulnerable species. It was good to see how much my fellow carers did for her with all the good work they did day and night striving to save this adorable Khanyisa.

It was very scary to meet the bigger elephants, as it was the first time I’ve been that close to big elephants. My relationship with the elephants has grown in a way that has made me realise how much these animals need people with a good heart to save them and change their lives for the better.

The elephants I am able to identify easily are Khanyisa, Tokwe, Lundi, Jabulani, Fishan, Timisa and Sebakwe because they have easy features to identify and different behaviour. I have learned how the elephants act when in different moods and how elephants care for each other and the little ones.

My favorite part of the job is going into the bush with the elephants and observing their behaviour and also to see the impact we are making on Khanyisa’s life and those of other elephants.

We look forward to sharing more about Willinton as his journey with HERD continues.

Find out more about our human HERD HERE.

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