An elephant named Nzou, orphaned when poachers killed her parents for their ivory, has become the towering gentle giant among her adopted family, a herd of water buffalo.

For years Nzou eschewed the nearby elephant herd, preferring to stay with the buffalo.

Now, decades later, she is a protective matriarch watching over new births of calves in the herd and becoming distressed whenever separated from them.

Together they roam on a 10,000 acre game reserve in Zimbabwe, interacting with the area’s natural wildlife during the day, but protected from poachers at night.

Conservationists Gill and Norman Travers opened the Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation park in the 1970s. During the 1980s, a decade which saw some of the worst rhino poaching in Zimbabwe’s history, Norman was awarded custodianship of seven orphaned baby Black Rhino. Thus began Imire’s Black Rhino breeding program. With 11 releases of rhino back into the wild over the next two decades, the park has become a success story and a destination for volunteers and eco-tourists.

Photo from the Imire Rhino and Wildlife Facebook Page
Story Tip from Leija Haabe

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