Orphaned elephants think they are buffaloes, live in herds since they were young and like to play with buffaloes more than other species

Orphaned elephants think they are buffaloes, live in herds since they were young and like to play with buffaloes more than other species

They say elephants never forget but it seems to have slipped this one’s mind what species she is. She prefers to hang out with the buffalo.

Nzou, 46, has lived on the Imire Black Rhino and Wildlife Conservation area in Zimbabwe since her parents were killed in the 1970s.

Norman Travers, Imire’s founder, originally put Nzou with a bull elephant within the only large herd animal which Imire had at the time – the buffalo.

 

Buffalo solider: Nzou towers over the buffalo but she is their matraicrh

When the bull died, Nzou had become acclimatised to living with the buffalo and had even taken on some of the characteristics of the buffalo and lost some of her elephantine qualities.

Imire owner Judy Travers said: ‘Nzou is the matriarch of the entire farm but she chooses to spend her time with the buffalo.

‘We have tried to reintroduce her to the elephant herd on the farm but she’s really happy where she is.’

 

I’m in charge – Nzou and her buffalo herd. She protects them, looks after them but woebetide any young make who steps out of line

Nzou and her buffalo herd have their own way of communicating – they understand her rumbles and she, in turn, can understand their sounds

Nzou is happy with her unusual herd and, as long as they accept she is their leader, she is content to be their matriarch

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,’ says Judy.

Nzou has never lost her elephant’s instinct for loyalty. Matthew, her handler for many years, was one day charged by one of the young male buffalo and badly gored.

 

 

Nzou has been with the buffalo so long she has forgotten how to speak to other elephants

Terribly hurt and losing blood, he crawled to the fence, accompanied every step of the way by Nzou, 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 and her buffalo herd have their own way of communicating – they understand her rumbles and she in turn can understand their sounds.

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.

 

Nzou, 46, has lived on the Imire Black Rhino and Wildlife Conservation area in Zimbabwe since her parents were killed in the 1970s

 

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