When Khanyisa the albino elephant first arrived at Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development (HERD) in South Africa, rescuers weren’t sure if she was going to make it.
The calf had been sighted wandering around all by herself for days after she had become entangled in a snare. Snares are small traps used for catching birds or mammals, and typically have a noose of wire or cord.
Once it had wrapped itself around Khanyisa’s body, it had become impossible for the little calf to free herself.
Adine Roode, the founder of the elephant orphanage, was the first to receive the call about Khanyisa. She was amazed that the elephant had managed to survive for so long in the snare, and Adine immediately grew attached to the sweet calf.
Khanyisa was taken to the sanctuary and treated for her injuries. Her albinism also meant that her skin was very sensitive and easily burned, so volunteers walked around the sanctuary with Khanyisa holding an umbrella over her to shield her body from the sun.
Khanyisa was kept away from other elephants as she healed, but that didn’t stop her from saying hello!
Elephants are naturally sociable creatures, and the sweet little calf often stopped at the fence to say hello to the elephants on the other side. In the meantime, Khanyisa’s carers made sure to shower her with love, attention, and cuddles, so that she never felt too alone.
While Khanyisa was recovering, she formed another friendship with none other than a sheep. Lammie is a Thaba-Manzi Pedi breed of sheep, and according to HERD, sheep like Lammie are “known for their exceptional mothering skills, and are often very protective of their young, having no fear against predators.”
This made her the perfect surrogate mother for Khanyisa.
Speaking of the pair’s bond, HERD added, “These two certainly are a great source of joy and silliness and comfort in one another’s special lives!”
As the months went by, Khanyisa steadily gained weight, and her injures healed. Before she knew it, it was time to meet the elephant herd! One by one, the calf was introduced to the elephants. She looked very tiny in comparison to them, but she showed no fear – and in turn, they happily accepted her into their herd.
Khanyisa’s fighting spirit throughout 2020, her strength and softness in the face of great difficulty, kept us striving and smiling, month after month!” HERD wrote. “We are so proud of Khanyisa’s little brave heart and determination to survive. Being part of her rehabilitation this far has been a privilege.”
The animal rescue organization often share updates of Khanyisa and their other rescue elephants on their Facebook page, or alternatively you can keep up with the elephants over on their YouTube channel.
Khanyisa’s bravery and fighting spirit is an inspiration to us all, and watching her recovery has certainly helped to raise our spirits over the last few months. Check out the video of Khanyisa and her surrogate sheep mom below.
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