Addressing the elephant in the room can be difficult, but it becomes much easier when you’re standing in your living room.
Staff at the game reserve in Zululand found themselves with an unusual problem after the 10-day-old elephant ran away from its mother and ended up in their garden on Friday morning.
When Francoise Maldy Anthony and her colleagues saw the little explorer stumble into her front room, they couldn’t believe their eyes. It had just completed an incredible journey and was looking for a place to rest.
After the ranch’s chef who first discovered her in the garden, a young elephant named Tom is thought to have traveled around 30 miles before ending up at Thula Thula Private Game Reserve on Tuesday night.
Mrs. Anthony and her staff ensured that the young elephant had food and water as rangers headed out on the reserve to track down her mother.
Mrs. Anthony, who has owned the reserve for 15 years, said she was shocked to find that the baby was the calf of an elephant her husband had rescued several years earlier.
‘She must be like the littlest hobo as baby elephants never ever get lost from their herd.
‘It’s also remarkable that she ended up at my home – we have 4,500 hectares of land, and she was spotted a day before she arrived at my house with her herd at the other end of the reserve.
‘She had walked miles to get here and was quite distressed when she arrived – she looked tired, thirsty and hungry.’
To avoid any stress or danger, Mrs. Anthony and her staff left Tom the elephant free to roam and were careful not to have too much contact with the animal, fearing it might make her mother reject her.
‘When Tom was finally reunited with his mother, she was delighted. His mother had been rescued from a neighboring reserve which was going to allow a hunter in to shoot her.
I couldn’t say the same thing about Tom, but she must be a bit of a renegade because she tried to run after the van when it pulled away.
‘She was only here for a few hours before we managed to get her back, but it was magical.
Her herd was monitored overnight to ensure everything was fine, and she was accepted back into the group.
‘It really is a remarkable rescue story. I tried to take photos but couldn’t use the flash as I didn’t want to startle her.
‘It was a fantastic experience.’
Francoise now lives alone after she lost her husband Lawrence Anthony two years ago.
He was an acclaimed conservationist and novelist who wrote ‘The Elephant Whisperer: the Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Battle to Save His Herd.’
Francoise added: ‘Some people on Facebook said that it was just too much of a coincidence that out of the 4,500 hectares available, this elephant chose to make her way to my garden.
‘Lawrence was famous for the work he did saving elephants and even saved Tom’s mother – people are saying the elephant needed saving and was drawn here.
‘I don’t really know about that, but I am sure that she couldn’t have spent much longer out there alone.
‘She was very dehydrated and very stressed – she had been walking for an incredibly long time.
‘The important thing is she is back with her mother and herd and can now continue with them – unless she decides to wander off again.’