The baby elephant whose name is Ubuntu or as his loving carers call him, Elle, was rescued and taken to the Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa.
This sanctuary was formed specifically for abandoned and orphaned Rhinos who are victims of poachers. The mothers are killed for their horns and the babies left to fend for themselves and if not found, they die.
But when the baby elephant was brought in, there was no question that they would accept him. Numerous attempts to reunite him with his family, failed.
Elle had a huge umbilical hernia which was ulcerated and the entire belly-button area was open and infected. This is a direct connection to the blood supply and his whole system was being compromised. This type of infection is generally fatal but with 24 hour nursing care, for a very hard three months and against all the odds, Elle has recovered.
He also developed intolerance for milk so any milk product made him ill. Special milk was brought in from Zimbabwe and Kenya and nothing would work. The carers started making a formula made of well-cooked, gooey rice to which protein and minerals were added as well as coconut oil and desiccated coconut. This was doing the trick and Elle slowly started to recover and stabilize.
It is always difficult to rear baby elephants by hand as they are herd animals and are brought up by all the females in their families. So not only was Elle separated from his family physically but psychologically as well.
It was only when Duma, a former service and sniffer Alsatian dog came along, that Elle finally felt less lonely and life began to look more optimistic. Up to now, Elle was lethargic, miserable and really didn’t want to do anything. In desperation, the carers introduced Duma to him and they quickly formed a bond.
They saw an immediate change in Elle as he and the dog chased each other around the sand pile. Elle became more alert and started showing more interest in life. Over the next few weeks Duma became Elle’s constant companion, spending every minute with him and became very protective of him.
What is going to happen to Elle? He has to be integrated into a herd. Either an existing one or a new one made up of other orphans. But for the moment, he is being well taken care of and loved by the carers and his friend, Duma.
What do you think?