WEIRD AND WILD STUFF OUR ELEPHANTS DO
Our first calf was born here to Mashumbi on November 7, 2004. Mashumbi was taken by a bachelor herd of fourteen wild bulls in January of 2003 whilst out in the bush browsing. The bulls had mixed with all six of our elephants, after the handlers called each elephant out, the bulls had kept Mashumbi circled and began to charge our handlers refusing to give her up, it is very possible she was in oestrus at the time. The handlers tracked until nightfall though lost their trail in the rain soaked bush. This was the last we had seen of Mashumbi until 10 months later when she was spotted with, we believe, the same herd of bulls just down the road from Thorntree Lodge. We led all our elephants to where she was with the wild bulls that immediately moved off when they saw us. Mashumbi was called by name then recognized her familiar herd and walked forward to rejoin them. A long joyful and emotional reunion among the elephants followed. In the process of a general health check we had suspected she may be pregnant, later confirmed by our veterinarian. Mashumbi went on maternity leave in May and gave birth the following November. A fairly quick delivery and after a few first moments of anxiety, she has been a natural and excellent mother with Liwa following suit in her role as auntie.
Early evening January 31st 2010 the elephants had been feeding on Sekuti Island, directly across from our area, handlers came across early to call them back to the stables at last light. As the elephants swam across the Zambezi it was noticed there was an additional male elephant calf with them. This tiny calf less than a year old followed our matriarch Mashumbi and her daughter Chavaruka straight into the stables.
As we tried to separate them, other handlers went back across to the island to look for a herd to which he belonged. There were no other elephants on the island, checks with elephant population researchers revealed that no breeding herds had been discovered in the area for over two months. The calf should have still been nursing at this age but apparently had been on his own for some time as he had managed to learn to use his trunk to eat grass. He had shown some loss of condition, we treated him for some bumps and scratches. Our elephants had accepted him wholly; the Wildlife Authority had decided to leave him with us to be raised by our herd. We have named him ‘Sekuti’ after the island, he’s doing very well, we had continued to supplement his diet with nutrients he would normal whilst nursing. Sekuti joins the other elephants wherever they are and is learning good manners through positive reinforcement.