The heartwarming film Naledi: One Little Elephant airs tonight at 8/7c on the season premiere of Nature on PBS.
Born on a starry summer night in 2013, Naledi (which means “star” in Setswana) was orphaned just six weeks later when her mother passed away. Caretakers at Abu Camp, a safari lodge and elephant research center in Botswana, sprang into action to save the baby elephant’s life as she struggled to survive without her mother’s milk.
How the dedicated caretakers rallied to adopt the baby elephant, save her life, and reintroduce her to the herd that had forgotten her, is the focus of Naledi: One Little Elephant, A Nature Special Presentation.
Learn more about Naledi and her elephant and human family at Abu:
· At more than 1,000 kg (more than a ton), Naledi has progressed to a healthy three-and-a-half year old from her original weight of 150 kg. She is well on her way to average adult weight of between 2,200 and 6,000 kg!
· About two months ago, she was weaned from milk and it’s estimated that she has consumed more than 80,000 liters of milk since her birth (that’s more than 21,000 gallons, or more than a 28’ round swimming pool could hold). This weaning age is about the same as a wild elephant with a living mother - but most elephants orphaned before the age of two don’t survive. Having Naledi reach the age of 3.5 and successfully weaned is a healthy milestone.
· She has recently been allowed to roam free with the Abu herd since she has grown her second set of molars and can eat safely in the wild. The palm leaves and wild grasses that were once dangerous and created problems as a baby can be chewed well enough for her mature digestive system to handle.
· As part of the free-roaming Abu herd, she can someday choose to move off with the wild elephants but still enjoys coming into an enclosure at night where she is protected and has supplemental food and water. She and the herd have a veterinarian on call in Maun, a half hour flight to Abu, should the need arise.
· She still wants to sit on a lap or put her head on a shoulder but is discovering more and more every day that she’s an elephant and not part of the human family. While she could act like a petulant child to get attention when she was two, she is acting more like an endearing elephant in her third year of life.
· The Abu herd consists of six female elephants with Kathie as the matriarch in her mid-50s although she never had a baby of her own since she was rescued from a zoo where she was not allowed to interact with male elephants.
· The Abu herd caretakers often speak of the herd as their elephant family that they love almost as much as their human family back home.