Remembering Mopane - Gone but never forgotten
Last year December, a few weeks before Khanyisa was found and rescued, we experienced the terrible loss of a special young elephant that was loved by so many, far and wide.
We cannot help but think of the close bond Mopane and Khanyisa may have had now. No doubt he would have become like the brother who we know would have been playing with her and looking out for her. We miss Mopane so much and only wish he had lived to experience the joy with the herd that Khanyisa does today.
Mopane was the first orphan to grace our orphanage, after we completed building in August 2019. He was rescued in December 2017, as a one-month-old, and found alone in the Northern region of Kruger Park near Phalaborwa with no sign of his herd. We were very anxious for him to experience the newly built orphanage.
Lammie was the little elephant calf's sidekick from the beginning too, and they too had the most incredible bond.
Mopane enjoyed communicating with the Jabulani herd through the fence during his brief time at the orphanage. But tragically, just two days after we introduced him to Tokwe, the matriarch of the herd, trunk-to-trunk, he passed away suddenly. Adine and our team of elephant carers did everything to try to revive his body, but little Mopane passed away in their arms.
Our hearts were and still are broken, as anyone could imagine. He had not been ill and did not show any sign of stress. The results from his autopsy returned. Dr Rogers confirmed that Mopane was a very healthy young elephant, but sadly contracted a virus called Encephalomyocarditis. This virus is often passed through rodents' urine on dry feed such as lucerne. We had been experiencing a drought at the time and had had to source extra food from various suppliers, where we suspect the contamination may have originated.
Mopane had just reached two years old when he passed away. It still feels so surreal that he is not with us anymore, but we like to believe that he watches over us with love, guarding over Khanyisa and all of our team. Mopane was a very warm, loving and happy young elephant, who brought great love and learning to our team, and we know he'd have been a joyful playmate and friend to both Timisa and Khanyisa, the youngest orphans introduced to the Jabulani herd.
We all miss you terribly, "Moepa" - as Adine so fondly called him. R.I.P.