It was the moment we had all been waiting for

The little bull recently met Jabulani not only across the fence but directly, trunk to trunk in the elephants’ homestead. Adine and carers Stavros and George joined them, uniting Jabulani and Phabeni by the stables over a pile of lush bana grass. Phabeni was so brave and coolly, curiously, reached out his little trunk to meet Jabulani, his soon-to-be big brother.

Watch the moment here:

Jabulani was also the first elephant that Khanyisa met directly, with no barrier, as the bull showed the greatest interest by visiting her at the orphanage fence, just as he visited Phabeni. Jabulani is a very relaxed and friendly bull, even as a calf he was calm and collected.

During this first introduction, Jabulani happily let Phabeni walk right under him, while the little bull explored the environment. Our team was on hand in case there was any stress or panic between the two elephants, but the entire morning went off without a hitch.

We are so impressed by Phabeni and can’t wait to introduce him to the next elephant in the herd.

Watch Khanyisa meeting Jabulani here:

Phabeni & Khanyisa

Phabeni has also been receiving visits from young Khanyisa as the little elephant drinks her milk bottles on the other side of the fence, at the bottom of the orphanage garden. While snacking on her extra supplies of sweet potatoes, apples and pellets, Khanyisa found Phabeni’s wandering trunk coming in her a smell recently. Plus a grab of those cherished potatoes too.

Elephants are not big on sharing their food, and Khanyisa certainly showed some resistance, but Adine and Herman helped to calm her, while sharing her snacks across the fence with Phabeni. How little Phabeni looks beside Khanyisa! These moments remind us a lot of Khanyisa’s time in the orphanage, when she too was only months old and taking in this whole new world step by baby step. Phabeni has become very comfortable in the presence of Khanyisa and the other elephants, from across the fence, and shows more and more curiosity, compared to his early days when socialising was less enticing than a nap in the cool shady reeds.

Many people have asked why it seems that Phabeni’s rehabilitation and development seems so much faster than Khanyisa’s, with the little bull already taking walks to the waterhole after only being at the orphanage for two months. The answer is that Phabeni had no wounds to heal from, whereas Khanyisa had many months of healing to go through due to the severe lacerations caused by the snare that entrapped her as a young four month old. Phabeni’s greatest challenge at this stage is putting on weight and maintaining energy, but he is already ready for new milestones.

Similarly, Timisa was introduced straight to the herd when she was rescued as an orphan in November 2016 since she was a bit older than both Phabeni and Khanyisa and also did not need rehabilitation.

Each elephant orphan walks a journey that’s all their own, unique to them. We are excited to keep sharing Phabeni’s progress with you as it unfolds.

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