Khanyisa is an orphaned albino elephant calf that had been found trapped in a snare with severe injuries, in January 2020. The wounds indicated that she had been trying desperately to free herself for a few days. She had severe lacerations around the back of her ears and neck that stretched around her mouth and cheeks. There was no sign of her herd anywhere.
She was first taken into the care of the team at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary in Mpumalanga, where their veterinary team attended to the calf’s wounds as our elephant care departed from HERD to assist. Adine Roode (founder of HERD) applied for the necessary permits to transfer her from Mpumalanga to Limpopo ahead of joining them for the transfer to HERD.
From the beginning, she settled in quickly at HERD, with Lammie, our loyal resident companion sheep. Feeding her was more complicated than usual due to her mouth injuries, but the team managed to find the correct angles for feeding her successfully, without too much discomfort.
Our elephant care team, under the guidance of our trusted Wildlife veterinarian Dr. Peter Rogers, worked tirelessly for three months to ensure her wounds were treated and healed successfully.
Over time, she became familiar with the Jabulani HERD in the HERD Homestead next door, receiving a lot of emotional support from her future family.
At the end of April, once her wounds had fully healed, the gradual integration process with the herd began, starting with Jabulani, then Lundi, her became her adoptive mother and eventually the entire herd, who were introduced strategically based on the social dynamics of their family.
Khanyisa has gone from strength to strength, her wounds have healed beautifully, and her bonds with the herd have deepened naturally. She spends sunrise to sunset out in the wild of the reserve with the herd, and returns to the orphanage overnight, as she will remain dependant on milk formula from our carers until she is fully weaned at approximately four years old.
Khanyisa gets her name from her unique appearance as an albino, meaning “Light” or “Sunshine” in the local Shona language. Adine and the team also loved that it rhymed with Timisa, another orphan previously taken in by the Jabulani herd in 2016.
As an albino, Khanyisa is more visible in the bush, especially when she has no sand or mud on her body – and thus susceptible to attacks by predators. It also means that she is more sensitive to light and can suffer health problems associated with genetic mutations. Fortunately, she is in the care of her new herd and our team now, to try to help her overcome these obstacles she is faced with.
Khanyisa continues to be a ray of light to us and many of her loyal followers around the world since coming into our care at HERD, on 7 January 2020, as a four-month-old calf.