Phabeni's
Photo Credit: HERD

After orphaned baby elephant found its way to a woman’s garden, little Phabeni’s story took a life-changing turn!

Hoedspruit, South Africa (22 November 2023) — A new orphaned baby elephant has joined the Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development (HERD) family. But, little Phabeni’s new life wouldn’t be possible without the many heroes that showed up for the young elephant; sheltering his future.

This is Phabeni’s Story:

Earlier this month, a woman who lives near the Kruger National Park noticed a most unusual visitor in her garden. It was a baby elephant who was completely on his own in the world, after having lost his mother and herd.

The woman didn’t want to take the rangers’ advice which suggested ending his life because, without a herd, his chances for survival wouldn’t be fair. Instead, she wanted to give the little one a chance.

Nature Conservation officials were shortly on their way to the scene. Whilst making the trek, HERD was contacted to get involved, and before long, Phabeni was being estimated for transit.

The HERD rescue team awaited the four-month-old elephant at the Kruger National Park’s Phabeni Gate. This gate would aptly spark the calf’s name as it means ‘Shelter’ in Sotho, honouring the woman whose kindness saved Phabeni. At the time of his rescue, he weighed just 122kgs and had minor wounds.

Back in Hoedspruit at home base, the team on the ground made big preparations for his arrival.

An orphaned elephant calf that requires quite a few arrangements, including a nursery made up with teff, medical supplies and new teats for milk bottle feedings. And of course, a companion. Lammie (the local legend sheep) who had recently been busy with rhino calves was the perfect pick for the assignment.

Phabeni and Lammie

Adine Roode rallied many other HERD legends for Phabeni so that the welcome would be as hands-on as possible.Soon, Phabeni’s big arrival was warmly welcomed and the little trunk showed positive signs like being quick to drink.

“As tragic as his last few days no doubt were, the calf was now in the right place to help him heal. He could get the milk he needed without his mother to provide for him, and the promise of a new elephant family awaited him, right next door in the elephant homestead,” shared the HERD team. 

Phabeni is now under the care of Dr Rogers and Lammie and an all-star team of carers, and we are holding out all hope that his story will follow in the feel-good footsteps of other elephants like the now not-so-little Khanyisa.

Phabeni and Stavros

Sources: HERD Newsletter
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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