When a baby elephant was tragically abandoned by his heard in South Africa, it was a very dangerous situation. Elephants thrive when traveling in packs, and when an elephant as young of this one is left to fend for themselves, it can be disastrous.
Finding the Elephant
When rescuers found the baby elephant, he was very sick. They were shocked that he managed to survive for days on his own, but he desperately needed medical care. They immediately decided to do everything possible to get get the elephant back on his feet. After they rehydrated the baby elephant, they tried to reunite him with his herd in Hluhluwe’s Bonamanzi Game Reserve. Sadly, the herd rejected the baby elephant again, and the rescuers knew that they couldn’t leave him there. They decided to take matters into their own hands.
It was August 2015 when the elephant arrived at the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve for rehabilitation in Zululand, South Africa. At the time, the elephant was just two weeks old. They named the elephant Ubuntu, and they called him Ellie for short. It wasn’t until the veterinary experts examined Ellie that they realized why the herd rejected the elephant. He was suffering from an infect umbilical hernia, and he was fighting for his life. Because he was weak, the pack left him behind.
Refusing To Give Up
The experts knew that without treatment, the baby elephant would die. About 99 percent of elephants with this condition die. The rescuers were determined to save his life. They set him up in the sanctuary and worked around the clock to nurse him back to health. They watched him 24-hours a day to keep him alive. Not only were they treating the hernia and the many infections that Ellie had, but they were also trying to deal with the intolerance to the milk that the vets were feeding him. He was rejecting the food that he needed to regain his strength and boost his immune system. They tried ordering different types of milk from Kenya and Zimbabwe, but nothing worked. They really thought that they were going to lose Ellie.
Their Own Formula
Finally, the staff at the African wildlife reserve created their own special formula which had the protein and minerals that he needed, along with coconut oil. Finally, Ellie was drinking. As he started drinking the milk, he seemed to be getting better. He was improving physically, and his physical ailments were getting better. While he was getting better physically, he wasn’t getting better mentally. He was very lethargic and disinterested in everything. He also seemed lonely, withdrawn, and downtrodden.
Elephants are very social animals, which is why they often travel in packs. When Ellie was abandoned by his family, it caused some serious psychological issues. The wildlife rescue was home to animals at risk of poaching including zebras, giraffes, hyenas, buffalo, leopards, and crocodiles. Unfortunately, Ellie wasn’t interested in playing with any of the other animals. They hoped that Ellie would bond with someone, but he didn’t. His psychological well being was declining. Finally, something changed.
The wildlife experts decided to bring a German Shepherd named Duma to meet Ellie. He turned away every other animal that they brought near him, and Duma was a long shot, but it was worth a try. Duma was a former police dog who was very sweet and kind to all creatures, including wild animals. When they put the two together, Ellie was cheered up immediately. For the first time, he was playing, and he was happy.
Over time, Ellie and Duma became best friends. Duma gave Ellie a reason to live, and even though he wasn’t 100 percent physically, his fatigue was getting better. Soon, they were inseparable. The two spent their days playing the fields and in the sand. The rescuers say that when the two played together, that it seemed as though Ellie was smiling.
It seemed as though Duma was taking on the parental role for Ellie. He was very protective of his best friend, and he took care of Ellie. Dura often brought Ellie sticks or gave him a comforting nuzzle. The emotional bond that Ellie had with Duma helped treat his physical ailments.
Sadly, Ellie took a turn for the worse and needed medication. When the wildlife reserve posted Ellie’s story on social media, donations were pouring in for his care. Sadly, Ellie didn’t make it, and he was taken out into the wild to be buried. The staff was overcome with sadness, but nobody was as sad as Duma. This baby elephant decided to spend his last days alongside this creature, and it was an incredible bond. It is something that the rescuers will never forget.