Some people say that elephants never forget, but this one’s mind seems to have slipped on what species she is. She prefers to hang out with the buffalo rather than her own kind.
Nzou, 46, has lived on the Imire Black Rhino and Wildlife Conservation area in Zimbabwe since her parents were ki.l.led in the 1970s.
Norman Travers, Imire’s founder, originally placed Nzou with a bull elephant within the only large herd animal which Imire had at the time – the buffalo.
When the bull died. Nzou had become accustomed to living with the buffalo and had even taken on some characteristics of them and lost some of her elephantine qualities.
Imire owner Judy Travers said:”Nzou is the farm’s matriarch; she spends her time with the buffalo. The farm has tried to reintroduce her to the elephant herd, but she is happy where she is.”
After several attempts to encourage her to become part of the elephant herd, Norman decided that her rightful place should be back with the buffalo. And there she has remained ever since.
‘When newborns drop, she is part of the herd that moves back to the mum and calf after they’ve had a chance to build a relationship,’ said Judy.
Nzou has never lost her elephant’s instinct for loyalty. When her handler, Matthew, was one day charged by one of the young male buffalo and badly gored.
He was terribly hurt, losing blood when he crawled to the fence. Nzou was with him every step of the way, guarding him against further attacks by the buffalo. Once at the fence line, she stood in front of him, a massive protective shield, until help arrived from another part of Imire.
Nzou has a way of communicating with her buffalo herd. She can understand their sounds, and they can understand her rumbles.
Nzou does not respond to the other elephants on Imire – perhaps she no longer understands what they are saying. She is happy with her unusual herd and, as long as they accept she is their leader, she is content to be their matriarch.