Plants and Animals

There's An Elephant In The Room

April 4, 2014 | by Justine Alford

Photo credit: Barcroft.

The director of a game reserve in Zululand, South Africa, had a surprise visitor appear in her garden on Tuesday evening- a 10-day-old baby elephant. 

The baby elephant separated from her herd in the 4,500 hectare Thula Thula Private Game Reserve and is thought to have walked a considerable distance before ending up at the doorstep of the reserve's director, Francoise Malby Anthony. The elephant has been named after the reserve's chef, Tom, who discovered the female calf. On the Facebook page, Anthony said that she was "starving, dehydrated and very stressed," when they discovered her, so they brought her into the safety of the living room to help her. Although the reserve's staff wanted to ensure the safety of the calf, they took care not to make excessive contact in case the herd rejected her when she returned, which could occur if she didn't smell right. The reserve's vet nurse fed the calf, then she took a little nap (naaw). 

Rangers Shereen Bond and David Bozas meet baby Tom. Barcroft. 

Whilst staff were taking care of the calf, rangers went into the reserve to look for her herd. At 1 AM they reunited Tom with her family, but the rangers monitored the herd for the rest of the night to ensure that she was ok. The team are unsure as to why the elephant became separated in the first place; elephants have a very strong family bond and this is highly unusual. They think that perhaps she became distracted whilst playing and didn't realize that the herd had moved on. Since the mother accepted the calf immediately when they were reunited, they doubt that she became separated due to rejection by the mother. 

Tom's mother was actually also rescued by Anthony's late husband, Lawrence, author of The Elephant Whisperer and a famous conservationist. A neighboring reserve was going to allow a hunter to pay to shoot her to take a trophy. 

"We shall never know how and why she ended up in our garden, but most important is that she survived her little 'wondering adventure' in the African bush," said Anthony. 

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