A travelogue from Abby Salle from her recent journey through Africa with her family!

Elephants have always been my favorite animal without a doubt. I could probably sit for hours watching herds move quietly through the bush, making little to no noise.

Although they are the gentle giants of Africa, they can be very fierce when necessary (especially when it comes to family.) Even though, in my eyes, they are sweet and gentle creatures, I never imagined I would have the chance to stand face-to-face with my favorite animal. In fact, I almost didn’t even want to, instead I’d rather leave them where I love to observe (plus I was quite nervous to stand next to an animal 50 times my size.)

That is, until I heard the story of the orphaned elephants at the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage. The elephants are brought to Wild Horizons for a variety of reasons including: their mother died, they were found abandoned by humans, or they are an unwanted pet of a human.

By working with these elephants, Wild Horizons has actually been able to make new family units which will head off unto the bush when they are ready. So for these elephants, Wild Horizons is more of a temporary home until their new family unit is ready to be on their own.

The family that we met was headed by the matriarch, Coco, who was incredibly sweet. I will never forget when I got to touch her trunk, her ivory and the leather behind her ears. I was very surprised how calm she was, even with so many people around. I was also caught off guard by the rough texture of her skin, sprinkled with very coarse hair all over.

After we met Coco, we got to feed her entire family unit. They responded to our requests, either for trunk up or trunk down. So you could either dump food directly into their trunk, or toss it into their mouths. This was an incredible experience that I would recommend to anyone (especially those with a special love for elephants like me!)

— Abby Salle

Editor’s Note:

Visits to the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary & Orphanage begin with a presentation about the work of the orphanage, with a focus on its foundation of conservation and environmental responsibility. Visitors hear from guides who have spent time with the elephants, learning about their individual personalities and the complexities of the herd. They’ll also learn how each elephant came to the sanctuary and, through that discussion, learn about the threats facing elephant populations today.

The ultimate goal at Wild Horizons has always been to return as many elephants as possible to the wild while also caring for injured or orphaned elephants.

To read more about Wild Horizons and the history and ethos behind their Elephant Sanctuary & Orphanage, visit https://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/wild-horizons-elephant-sanctuary.html.

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