Welcome, or as our elephants would say in Shona, Mauya! Here you can find all things RHCRU and elephant, including updates on our current research and publications, testimonials from students and interviews with our researchers. Our blog is dedicated to educating fellow elephant lovers about the current problems facing Africa’s wildlife and sharing our successes and failures with you. We however hope that this blog runs deeper than current events and offers you a personal connection with our staff and elephants. As I’m sure you have read on our main site, RHCRU’s vision is all about holistic conservation of elephants, as well as other wildlife in South Africa, by adding value to the animals we treasure so dearly. We, however, strive to do so much more. The passion that encompasses the minds and hearts of our researchers reaches deeper than just science. We strive to make the world better, not just for the elephants, but for people as well. Whether working with the local communities to find solutions to make their daily lives simpler, or enriching the lives of young students by working with them on their projects, we strive to share our love of elephants with the world, to start a spark of conservation in the hearts of many, so that we, as a whole, may work together to protect these magnificent creatures. Conservation is only possible if it becomes a global goal, and we invite you to become a part of the challenge. Maybe we can even inspire you to join our research team or start your own conservation or community project.
For our first blog entry, we found it only fitting to introduce you to our elephants, as they are the stars of our organization. First and foremost, Chova, the oldest and biggest of our elephants, is also the dominant bull of our herd. Currently standing at 2.8 meters, he proudly watches over his family in the bush. Gentle and kind, he has a weak spot for his daughter Bela, who can often be found running between his legs, vying for his attention (which she undoubtedly gets). Mussina, Bela’s mother, is the matriarch of the herd, despite being the youngest adult female. Her sweet nature is apparent in the way she cares for her young calf, constantly checking on her with the tip of her trunk and ensuring Zambezi, our older calf, doesn’t get too rough with her. That doesn’t stop Bela and Zambezi, who are quite playful, from wrestling with each other in the mud, though. Despite their young age, intelligence shines in their eyes, and Bela and Zambezi learn quickly from their elders. Zambezi’s mother, Shan, is our oldest female, and the first to have a calf at our reserve. She is an independent elephant with a love for all things food, especially citrus and game cubes. Nuanedi, our 18 year old female, is the watchful aunt of Zambezi and Bela, and can usually be found overseeing the youngsters playing. Unique in the fact that she has only one tusk, her quirky personality and character make her a delightful elephant. Last, but definitely not least, is Chishuru, our 21-year-old bull. A typical younger bull, he is the jokester of the group. In the summer he loves to swim, ducking and diving deep under the water to roll in the mud at the bottom of the dam.
Each of our elephants came from private game farms in South Africa where they had been labelled as “problem animals” and destined to be culled (selective killing of animals for management purposes). Once they arrived on our farm, they formed a new herd, and their close bond is apparent. They never stray far from each other, and if they do accidentally become separated, they immediately re-join in a series of rumbles and trumpets. The calves are watched over carefully, and kept in the center of the herd as the family moves through the bush. The close bond between the elephants, however, was perhaps best demonstrated when Chova injured the tip of his trunk, disabling him from eating on his own. During that time, Mussina fed him branches, gently placing each into his mouth, in perfect position for him to chew. True role models for how sentient beings should treat one another, watching them interact with one another can melt anyone’s heart. Now they are helping us save more elephants like them, by teaching us about their species through close contact and observation.