Rescued albino elephant Khanyisa is happy with new herd in South Africa

A small elephant and goat with white body and brown head
Khanyisa, an albino elephant calf and Lammie, her companion sheep, Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development, South Africa, May 23, 2021, photo: Reuters/ Sumaya Hisham

Khanyisa the albino elephant, who got trapped by a poaching snare when she was only four months old, has found a new family at a sanctuary in Mpumalanga, northeast of Johannesburg.

In January 2020, she was trapped for four days when a poaching snare cut through her mouth. When Khanyisa was rescued in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, she was completely dehydrated and unable to eat.

She was transferred to Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development (HERD), where she now lives with a herd of elephants led by male elephant Jabulani.

“Khanyisa was found in a snare, and the snare actually cutting through her mouth behind her ears, and she had really ugly wounds, so when she came in, she was totally dehydrated and severely injured,” Adine Roode, HERD founder, told news agency Reuters.

Roode said snaring is rising due to human overpopulation and less space for animals to live. Humans set the snares to poach large animals or catch smaller ones for food or to sell.

Many elephants at HERD were orphaned and hand-raised. Elephants with albinism are rare, but they can adapt to their surroundings. During sunny days, Khanyisa can hide in the shadows of the other elephants to protect her skin.

Khanyisa has bonded with Lammie, who acts as a surrogate mother for orphaned rhinos and elephant calves that come to HERD.

“Lammie does have a very motherly instinct, because the breed, she’s a Peddie breed, and they do have, you know, just that instinct of being motherly,” said Roode.

Khanyisa roams with the elephant herd during the day, and she sleeps in an indoor pen with Lammie and another sheep at night.

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