FENYA THE SURVIVOR – A New Orphan Elephant Calf rescued at Jabulani's HERD

A second elephant calf snare victim was brought into the care of HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation & Development), South Africa’s first dedicated elephant orphanage, started by Adine Roode, Owner & MD of Jabulani on 17 February 2021. 

The young female elephant calf was found on a private game reserve in Phalaborwa, in Limpopo province by a local resident. She had a wire snare wrapped tightly around her head which had caused severe wounds, however, she had managed to dislodge the snare from where it had been secured. There was no sign of her herd, meaning that she had either been separated from or abandoned by them before or after being caught in the snare.

The calf was extremely scared and defensive from the moment she arrived at the orphanage, not allowing anyone to come near her. It was evident that she had been highly traumatised. She was in a severely degraded state due to serious wounds caused by the snare, dehydration and immense starvation. She was estimated to be 2,5 years of age and approximately 350 kilograms.

The snare had torn the top right section of her ear vertically, which hindered the use of the ear and the wounds behind the ear were very deep. The snare was etched deeply into the back of the neck, creating a wide-open wound, and underneath her head, around her throat, where the notch in the snare created an open hole, revealing her bone. There was an immense maggot infestation in all the wounds. 

Judging from the condition of her wounds, it is likely she had been alone, suffering from the snare's grip, for at least four to eight weeks, according to the veterinary team from Provet who cleaned her wounds and provided her with much-needed fluids and vitamins.

We named the new calf, Fenya (Sotho for "Survivor"), as chosen by the HERD elephant carers who have been by her side 24/7 since she arrived. She had endured a similar traumatic experience to another calf at HERD, Khanyisa, an orphaned albino elephant who had similar injuries when she was found in January 2020. 

Within a week at HERD, Fenya had made excellent progress in trusting the carers and allowing Adine Roode, HERD Founder, to clean and treat her devastating wounds. She was soon accepting milk from a bottle too, enabling the team to provide her with essential nourishment, along with fruit, vegetables and vegetation.

Given the extreme trauma that she experienced, emotionally and physically, her rehabilitation is likely to take some time, much like Khanyisa's rehabilitation in 2020. This brave elephant willed herself through a very dark time in the reserve, all by herself. Her road of healing has been full of challenges, with the calf’s severe starvation bringing daily problems that need immediate action, with low glucose and protein levels having already required one blood transfusion and several drips to be administered.

The HERD care team are immersed in caring for her and have seen incredible progress in a short space of time. Fenya is already walking alongside Khanyisa, Lammie and her human herd out in the garden, grazing and taking in her environment and occasional visits from the Jabulani herd on the other side of the fence. 

Through her short journey of healing so far, she has been nothing short of an incredibly strong survivor. The team continue to do whatever it takes to fight alongside her, and for her.

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