The odds were against Khanyisa from the start. Born with albinism, the elephant calf risked rejection from her herd. She remained with them for four months before she wandered into a poacher’s snare. Trapped and abandoned, she had to fight for her life alone. As days passed, the razor-sharp noose sunk deeper into her flesh. Khanyisa’s fate appeared to be sealed. But this calf had an unbreakable spirit, and her journey was only just beginning.

When Khanyisa was found, she was in a critical condition. The trap had caused agonising lacerations behind her ears and neck, and had sliced straight through her cheeks. Traumatised and suffering from the severe injuries, Khanyisa needed around-the-clock care if she was to make a full recovery. Fortunately for this odd calf, the team at HERD was the perfect fit. The first elephant orphanage in South Africa, it’s dedicated to rehabilitating calves and integrating them into the Jabulani herd. A closely-knit group of orphans and displaced elephants, the herd welcomes others like them into their family.

Since Khanyisa’s arrival at the centre, she has become a beacon of light in the lives of those around her. She settled into her new home without a hitch, developing a special affinity with the resident support sheep, Lammie. Although each day has brought a new challenge for Khanyisa, the elephant remains triumphant through it all. With the aid of stem cell treatments, her injuries are finally healing and the team has started introducing her to the other elephants. The herd tickled pink with their new addition, it won’t be long before Khanyisa is part of this family of misfits.