Does Khanyisa skin need extra protection being an albino?
Khanyisa and the herd constantly cover themselves with mud and sand which serves as a natural sunscreen for the elephants. This has proven to be successful for Khanyisa’s fairer skin too. Further to that, the larger elephants also provide Khanyisa with sunshade during the day too.
Why don’t you design protective eyewear for her eyes as they are sensitive to the sun, being an albino?
There are many challenges to consider with the practicality of eyewear for an elephant. We have had serious discussions with various parties, but there are too many factors that does not make it feasible. Factors include, the dexterity of her trunk and her ability to remove any eyewear, the amount of sand, dust and mud that they continuously disperse on their heads and bodies, lengthy eyelashes, and a fast growing head/body. We made the decision to let her continue naturally. There is an older albino elephant on the reserve that is still doing extremely well with her eyesight.
How long do you supply the calves with milk?
The orphans will continue to be provided with milk until approximately 4 years of age. Calves in the wild are totally dependent on their mother’s milk for sometimes two, sometimes two years, depending on the calf. Although from 2 – 4 years they eat a lot more solid food, they will generally continue to suckle until the age of 3 – 4 years or perhaps even longer. It is our duty to ensure that we are able to provide the calves with the milk formula they need to survive.
How much milk does Khanyisa drink every day?
Khanyisa’s milk intake is approximately 20 litres per day. The frequency of the bottles will change as she gets older. Currently she gets 2 litres every three hours.
When will Khanyisa join the herd?
Currently, Khanyisa spends 12 hours of the day with the herd out in the wild. Upon their return from the wild, Khanyisa is brought back to the orphanage that neighbours the Jabulani herd stables. It is during this time that the carers are able to continue to provide milk bottle feedings to the calf. Access to the calf if she was in the company of the elephants in the stables, would put the carer in potentially dangerous situations between the elephants during the night.
It is essential that Khanyisa gets good rest, especially with her condition as an albino, where we do not always know her full needs compared to normal calves. Having her in the nursery allows her to rest well, rather than being disturbed for milk if with the herd, who would then no doubt disturb her further through the night.
Being in human company during these crucial formative years of their development also allows for constant review of their dung consistency and frequency of urination. This assists with urgent treatment for any irregularities or changes in their condition. Calves are prone to rapid changes in their conditions, and time is always of the essence. Therefore, 24-hour human care is vital at this stage.