Adine shares some insight into the emotional side of elephants, their intelligence, sensitivity, and complex social bonds.
In this video below, we start with Lundi and her adoptive daughter, albino orphan, Khanyisa, foraging together and spending time with Adine. Both elephants show their concern for and interest in Adine’s wounds, also on her elbow, from her recent cycling accidents. As herd animals, they share many traits with us humans, as science has shown over time. We witness this constantly in the bush with the herd.
HERD Founder, Adine says…
You will see when the little ones are not strong enough with their trunks yet, they will go down on their front legs and bite off or chew the little branches. Like humans elephants also learn throughout the years how to do things. They’re extremely clever, very intelligent and they can remember things that you will forget about it.
Elephants can mourn, they are very in touch with their feelings.
One of the reasons that we also rotate the carers is that they don’t get attached to one or two carers, but rather there is a variety of people. So should you go off, even for me, during the hard times I also had to stand back a bit so that Khanyisa doesn’t get too attached to me. And you can see, if you go, they are a bit sad, and once you’re back, they’re so glad to see you. Just what I’ve experienced lately, being away for a longer period than before, Khanyisa was so glad to see me. We can also see that with the other carers that she deals with a lot.
When Herman returns, you can see how glad she is. You can see it in the communication. She will rumble to greet them. Their communication plays a huge role in the elephants’ lives. Not only with rumbling, they also have different ways to communicate.
Elephants are very attached to their families.
They have extremely strong family bonds and they will look out for each other. The female elephants, the cows, actually play a huge role in the family hierarchy. We have the Matriarch and she’s the one who actually keeps the family together. I think their family structure and bonds are much stronger than you have in human families. They watch out for each other, they will also fight. Some of them also don’t get along. We for example have a Bubi and a Lundi, who don’t get on extremely well, but they do get along. They have two sons and when there is a dispute between the two bulls, they will choose sides. Of course Bubi will choose Zindoga’s side and Lundi will choose Mambo’s side. So even when Mambo and Zindoga are extremely good friends, the females will remember what the boys did wrong.
I think people have so much to learn from elephants. From all animals.
Sometimes you think oh you’re forgotten, but you see how the elephants react to you, all the love they show. I thought I missed her a lot but I think she actually missed me a lot also. In the bush she keeps coming to me, seeing where I am, and actually showing me how strong she got and how she’s playing and when I whistle to her she hears me and you can see with her ears she’s listening and then she turns into the direction where I whistle from, and I know I need to let go, and I do let go, but it’s easier said than done.
I think if you look at Khanyisa’s companion sheep, especially Lammie who played such an instrumental role in Khanyisa’s life and Nungu played in many rhino’s life – a huge role. And as Nungu is just retiring and keeping Lammie company again, while Khanyisa’s out. Both of them are huge role players and I think even if it’s a sheep you know, whatever you are whatever, you sometimes think you don’t play a role in the bigger scheme of things, but how could you ever think that a sheep, oh Lammie, that when she was born that she’d be actually such a special special little and now an older sheep. Lammie’s got such a beautiful personality. I think if we can have more Lammies in the world… They do say if women were leaders there would be less wars and the world would be better but everyone plays a huge role. It’s just about finding that place in the world where you fit in and where you can do the most and be the most to the people around you and to not only the people but the surroundings in your area or neighbourhood.