Let us take you on a journey… a journey through Khanyisa’s little life since she arrived at HERD elephant orphanage.

For our new followers who may not know Khanyisa’s journey and for our old supporters who have been there for every step and milestone, take a look back at Sunshine’s rehabilitation — the progression of her wounds. With the help of wildlife vet, Dr Peter Rogers, and our care team, Khanyisa’s wounds managed to heal beautifully — leaving her with scars that are barely visible, but that remind us of the pain she has overcome.

Khanyisa was rescued in January 2020, having survived several days on her own in the wild, severely injured from a snare that had wrapped itself around her head, severing the top lobe of her left ear and causing severe lacerations around her head, neck, mouth and cheeks. The four-month-old calf somehow freed the snare from the ground, but it remained wrapped around her, continually rubbing and cutting into her flesh. It is unclear if her herd had abandoned the albino calf before she was ensnared or after the incident. The fact that she survived so long in the wild is a miracle; she was dehydrated, and her eyes had swollen shut from pressure building from the snare and the swelling around her head.

The most significant part of her rehabilitation process was the long yet successful treatment of her wounds. The open flesh of her deep mouth wounds from the snare had maggots feeding off the decaying flesh. The maggots created gaping holes into her mouth. First, we had to treat the calf’s wounds to combat infection and keep them clean. Once satisfied that all possible infection had cleared, Wildlife Vet, Dr. Peter Rogers began with the stitching of her wounds. In the beginning of January, Dr Rogers stitched up the cheek and mouth wounds. At the end of January, he stitched the back of her right ear. Adine started with stemcell treatment on Khanyisa’s wounds in March, to assist in the final stage of healing. The skin-restoring serum combines plant-derived stem cells cultivated from Argan tree and Comfrey roots and helped to regenerate the dry and damaged skin, with a natural extract from the aerial part of Onopordum Acanthium, to increase skin turnover. The treatment was successful; her wounds had healed entirely by the end of March.

During these milestones, Khanyisa suffered occasional bouts of diarrhoea, which is always disconcerting with elephant calves. Diarrhoea can be brought upon from PTSD, bacteria, teething or dietary challenges as their nutritional needs consistently change as a calf grows. But the HERD team, working continuously throughout the COVID-19 Lockdown, saw to every hurdle with efficient care and managed to help the calf through these bouts, with the assistance of Dr Rogers and trusted elephant advisors.

Next up, take a look at: The Cutest Conversations with Baby Elephant Khanyisa! Rumbles, Roars, Snorts & More!

Khanyisa is one chatty little elephant! She has been rumbling, snorting, crying and trumpeting across her wilderness as she expresses herself to anyone who will listen, namely her herd or carers and Adine. Most frequently, we hear her rumble but this video shows off all her many sounds as she communicates with those around her. The character of her rumbles is influenced by whether they are produced nasally through the trunk, or through the mouth. “African elephants produce a broad range of sounds from very low frequency Rumbles to higher frequency Snorts, Barks, Roars, Cries and other idiosyncratic sounds. The most frequently used type of call is the very low frequency Rumble,” writes Elephant Voices (https://www.elephantvoices.org/) In many ways, elephants’ sounds seem to mimic how we humans communicate verbally amongst ourselves and even to other animals. The different call types depend on the elephant’s behaviour. Is it in distress, excited, happy, agitated…? The intensity of these calls depends on the animal’s excitement level and emotional state. Of course there are many sounds we can’t hear, lacking the anatomy of an elephant’s inner ear, which helps it to detect low frequencies and infrasonic tones. Watch Khanyisa’s conversations over the months as we celebrate her three year birthday and see which other elephants you can spot!

Baby Elephant Khanyisa’s Oopsies 🐘 All Her Cute Stumbles with the Herd

There have been many stumbles along with those rumbles over the months since Khanyisa first arrived… as she tried to find her legs as they grew and grew beneath her. The herd rallied around her to help her up or comfort her while she gained more stability on those strange pegs holding her up! But she had a knack for always getting right back up when she fell. This has been true to her spirit too. Her persistence and perseverance are inspiring and sees to be natural traits, in spite of the hard beginning she endured as a snare survivor and orphan. Thank you for all the lessons, Sunshine!

Take a look here > at multiple moments of sneaky trunk hellos and curious periscope investigations! Khanyisa’s trunk has certainly grown longer, stronger and more and more confident as she’s progressed from three months to three years of age! Watch this cute celebration of her trunk peekaboos at the orphanage over the months.

View That Baby Elephant Crossed-Legs Stance Khanyisa Does So Well >. Over the months since she first arrived, Khanyisa has shown an extra cute habit of crossing her legs when she’s grazing or drinking or simply resting. She pulls off the nonchalant look with ease and shows she’s content and in no rush. The bigger elephants cross their back legs from time to time too, resting their weight on one side. Watch this video collage of Khanyisa’s cutest crossed legs moments!

Khanyisa sprinted into our lives and hearts with spirit and determination and we’ve been watching that energy carry her across the wilderness with her herd together ever since. Her trots and speed walks have brought us smiles and given us great inspiration in our own lives. When we’ve need a pick-me-up most, we’ve turned to her and found it in her jogs across the orphanage garden and through the bushes that rattle in the wind. Her runs to meet up with her herd have been especially endearing, from the initial introductions to her new family to their daily adventures together. Watch this collection of running moments captured over the months:

We couldn’t honour Khanyisa’s journey without mentioning the vital life-giving role of milk in that journey! The milk bottles that have seen Khanyisa grow big and strong and that have given her the energy and nutrients she needed to heal and advance in life. These bottles have been a substitute for the mother Khanyisa lost but it wasn’t an easy process. It involved getting her to take the bottle with the painful wounds around her mouth from the snare and to learn to suckle the new teat our carers and Adine presented her with. Khanyisa adapted well and even though she put us through a few fussy mornings and evenings, she took she bottles well and gulped down her formula — a mix of infant milk formula and essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals! Our carers love these moments with Khanyisa, feeding her like her mother would have, and helping her to grow so that she can feed herself in the bush. Khanyisa is being weaned off her night time milk bottles currently so that she can join the herd in the homestead in the warmer months!

Khanyisa & Her Herd

Khanyisa & Timisa ~ A Love Story

As we look back at Khanyisa’s development into a big and beautiful 3 year old elephant this month, we bring you a look at her relationship with Timisa. Both were orphans integrated into the herd, young elephants who have found a new family to support and protect and teach them. Together they have shared many beautiful moments, as they play and spar out in the bush. Khanyisa is especially pushy with her playmate and sister, Timisa and Timisa tries her best to be patient… but sometimes the nudges are just too much and Khanyisa gets a kick and a shove in return. All’s fair in love and play though! Watch the video here >

Your Favourite Young Elephant Allomother, Kumbura & Her Beloved Khanyisa

Let’s look back at our favourite Kumbura & Khanyisa moments! As we count down to 26 September to celebrate Khanyisa’s big THIRD BIRTHDAY 🎉 we are looking at her journey and the special bonds she has formed and the important elephants and humans who have helped her get this far! Enjoy this collection of one very special allomother, Kumbura, potentially the most dedicated of all allomothers. Kumbura follows Khanyisa wherever she goes and is always willing and keen to jump in to watch over the young calf. She takes her role very seriously and it is this dedication that endears us so much to her. In spite of or because of her own traumatic start to life as an orphan, Kumbura just wants to keep other young orphans like Khanyisa and Timisa safe from harm. How can you not love her!

Did Someone Say Bubi & Khanyisa? Watch the Love Between These Two Elephants

Bubi has become one of Khanyisa’s most trusted mother figures in the herd, and accepted her unconditionally. Our elephant care team were not sure how Bubi would react to meeting little orphaned albino calf, Khanyisa, as Bubi has never had strong relationships with many of the females of the herd. She surprised us all – and showed her sincere love and tenderness from the very first day she was introduced to Khanyisa. Bubi has become an integral part to Khanyisa’s rehabilitation and growth, together with Lundi, Tokwe, Kumbura and Timisa – all of whom have played strong roles helping her become the strong little elephant she is today. Watch the video here >

The People Helping to Raise Baby Elephant Khanyisa! Her HERD Carers! 💕

So much love and dedication has gone into the raising of baby elephant Khanyisa, the snare survivor and orphan who has now fully rehabilitated and is counting down the days till she joins her new family in the bigger elephant homestead! This love and dedication has come from our carers on a daily basis, as each orphanage carer has played a role in Khanyisa’s emotional and physical wellbeing, providing her with a helping hand, sweet potatoes, water, milk bottles, stimulation, exercise, rest, and blankets! They are her doctors, teachers, nurses, mothers, fathers, blanket tailors, gardeners and more! Watch their journey with albino calf, Khanyisa as she grew and grew and grew, from a tiny pink tot to a towering forager and efficient swimmer! Thank you to our carers, for their day to day hard work and gentleness in looking after Sunshine and all the elephants!

The Heartwarming Love Between an Elephant Orphan & Her Human Mother: Khanyisa & Adine

This one’s for the heart and soul! Take a look at the love between Khanyisa and Adine as we go back in time, looking at the moments they have shared. We start in September 2022 and flash back little by little to January 2020 when Khanyisa first arrived after being rescued from the snare that orphaned her. It’s an incredible bond these two share and it’s one that has helped Khanyisa to gain confidence and security after the trauma and pain she endured at only four months of age. When you think of a human infant of that age it really hits home just how fragile and vulnerable she was and how terrified she must have felt. Her human herd helped give Khanyisa the kindness and warmth and sense of belonging she needed to heal. Through the love of Adine and her carers, humans were able to undo the damage done by others. It has been a journey made possible by all our supporters and partners. You are a part of this story. Watch the video here >

There have been some heartstopping moments over the months that Khanyisa has been in our care at HERD. We’ve shared them all with you here and loved reading your reactions and messages! We’ve learnt so much about these incredible animals through Khanyisa and her herd and hope you’ve enjoyed the journey too! Travel back with us as we relook at the best and most emotional moments, both loud and grand, and quiet and tender, between Sunshine and the elephants who have come to accept her as their own little meisiekind! Which moment is your favourite from this collection?

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