Elephants are the world’s largest land animals. African elephant males are the biggest, weighing in at up to 6 tonnes. African elephant habitat has declined by over 50% since 1979. Add in growing human-wildlife conflict and an upsurge in ivory poaching in recent years and it’s easy to see why elephants are under threat.With an estimated 415,000 elephants left on the continent, the species is regarded as vulnerable, although certain populations are being poached towards extinction. Scientists point out adult elephants as having no natural predators, and yet people are directly (e.g. shooting, spearing, snaring, poisoning) and indirectly (e.g. destroying habitat, blocking migrations routes and depleting water sources) responsible for the majority of elephant mortality. Our ancestors are credited with the extinction of the mammoths, but our generation will decide the fate of the world’s remaining elephants.
The survival and well being of elephants are threatened by:
The oldest member of the herd, we estimate Bop’s age to be approx. 67yrs (2020). Bop was rescued in Mana Pools during the intense culling era of the 1960’s and raised by local farmers in Chiredzi – little did they know how truly sizable he would become! Bop and Danny were brought to Victoria Falls together and moved to Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Livingstone in 2002. Former patriarch of the herd, Bop has sired three calves – Nandi, Muyuni and Nyami and lives out his days in and around the National Park and islands. Bop’s huge tusks began cracking due to old age. The tusks have been shortened by the vet in order to prevent further breakage and discomfort to this old gent.
Age approx. 57yrs (2020). Danny is the dominant bull of the herd and whilst extremely gentle in nature, he keeps the younger bulls in check. Danny was rescued with Bop and they remain together at all times in the bush. He recently survived a crocodile bite to his truck whilst drinking alongside the Zambezi, the scar can be seen on his trunk! Danny carries a truly magnificent set of ivory.
We affectionately call Madinda ‘The Dancing Elephant’ – this 40yr-old bull is extremely intelligent and full of character. Madinda was found alone under predator attack as he had lost his herd in the long search for food and water during a severe drought in The Gonarezhou National Park during the 1980’s. At the time of rescue, Madinda had lost half his tail and ear to predators.
Mashumbi is the Matriarch of the herd at an estimated age of 45yrs. Also a casualty of drought, she quickly gained respect as the leader once the core group of elephants came together. Mashumbi once left with a herd of 14 wild bachelor elephants to the South Kafue National Park and returned 10 months later pregnant! Mashumbi leads the herd in their daily routine of bathing in the Zambezi, foraging in the bush or dozing in the shade of nearby Acacia trees. Mashumbi has had two calves – Chavaruka (sired by wild elephant, now deceased) and Muyuni.
The glamour cow of the herd, this very social 42yr old female will hum when she is happy. Found and raised with Marula, the two were inseparable until Lewa had her first calf (Nandi). In 2014, Lewa’s second calf Nyami arrived.
Daughter to Lewa – this female calf developed tusks at 3yrs of age. Although mother Lewa is tusk-less, father Bop has huge tusks – some African elephants will never grow tusks due to genetics. Now at 13yrs (2020) Nandi has great expectations. Named after Shaka Zulu’s mother who became the Great Chief when her son became King, Nandi the elephant first showed signs of great leadership when she brought back an orphaned baby elephant from the Zambezi Islands one day. After unsuccessful efforts to locate the orphan’s herd, this herd rallied around Nandi’s new-found baby who was named ‘Sekuti’ after the island he was found on.
On 31st January 2010 the elephants returned from feeding on a nearby Zambezi Island with a 1-yr old orphaned calf, protected by Nandi. His own herd was never located and the herd welcomed the baby in who has settled amicably with the herd.
A mischievous bull born on 29th December 2013 to matriarch Mashumbi. He is a playful little elephant and spent his small years trumpeting and crashing through the bush, stopping to play in the mud at all times, the older elephants always reprimanding him. At 4yrs, Muyuni continued to grow tall and had already tusks.
The youngest member of the herd, Nyami was born to Liwa on 22nd September 2014. This little lady has a sense of humour. We have quickly learned not to stand behind her as she has a fairly accurate backward kick. She is often seen in the mud rough-housing with best friend Muyuni. Nyami is carefully looked after by mother Lewa, sister Nandi and Auntie Mashumbi.