We already know about the strong, lifelong bonds elephants form with their friends and family, but game reserve owner Francoise Maldy Anthony was shocked at the lengths a 10-day-old baby elephant went to find her mom.
The female elephant, named Tom, had been separated from her herd and had wandered into Francoise’s garden in search of her mother. The baby was seen with the herd at the other end of the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve just the previous day, so Francoise knew she had trekked an incredible 30 miles since then. She said, “I have owned this ranch for 15 years, but I have never experienced anything like this.”
Francoise’s husband, Lawrence, who passed away two years ago, had rescued Tom’s mother from a neighboring ranch which would have let a hunter shoot her.
It’s no coincidence that Tom ended up as Francoise’s specific house. Last month, we learned that elephants have a unique ability to distinguish peaceful humans from aggressors, and elephants have been known to form deep emotional connections with their human friends. Tom must have sensed that Francoise was trustworthy and would be able to help her find her mom.
And she did. Francoise gave the hungry elephant some milk and let her nap in her living room, while rangers searched for the herd. The mother was delighted to see her calf returned, though Tom tried to run after the rangers’ van as they pulled away. They monitored the herd overnight to make sure Tom didn’t wander away.
Francoise wanted to take photos of the mother and child reunion, but was afraid the camera flash would distress the elephants.