Today is Mundi’s nine month anniversary at ERNA. Last night was an opportunity of a lifetime to deepen her trust in me.
With the warming weather, all three elephants are wandering deeper into the habitat. When Bo sleeps, Mundi explores. She knows Bo’s routine and has become very comfortable wandering off and meeting back up with him after he wakes. Last night challenged her.
When I went out to do the late night feed at 11pm, Mundi seemed a little stressed, walking quickly around the front area of the habitat. I immediately realized that she was looking for Bo, but he was nowhere in sight. I knew I should find him and attempt to lead her to him. If she trusted that I was helping, she would follow.
Bo was at a far end of the 750 acre habitat, two miles away from Mundi, near the remote waterer as I suspected. They had been close to this area when I fed them at sunset. Most likely when Bo lay down to sleep, Mundi wandered off to forage. Apparently when Bo awoke, he continued further into the habitat to the distant waterer. When Bo was not where Mundi left him, she headed back to their familiar hangouts and became nervous when she did not find him, nor Tarra.
I fed Bo and headed back to see if Mundi would follow me for the two-mile hike back to Bo. Mundi was just finishing her rounds of the familiar places. She was a little hyper but when I called her name she came in my direction. She must have known I found Bo because without hesitation she briskly followed me, trunk raised high in the air attempting to catch his scent. It was such a pleasure to show her that I understood what she needed and could help her navigate this situation. After about a mile she relaxed, appearing confident in what we were doing. As she followed the 4-wheeler she stared straight ahead, intently into the night.
As we neared the two-mile mark, Mundi picked up her pace once again. She scented Bo and made a beeline toward him. Tarra was on her path. Mundi hesitated long enough to snag a flake of fresh hay while Tarra chattered as she passed.
I aimed the headlights of my 4-wheeler on Bo so Mundi would not miss him. With ears flared and head raised in excitement, she ran to Bo who had temporarily left his food to greet her. Mundi’s trumpet sounds like an over pumped beachball bursting, as if she holds it in until she can no longer contain herself. It belts out in a blast of air full of concentrated emotion. She spun circles around Bo who responded with his signature squeaks and ear flaps. This reunion continued for a few minutes until food once again became their focus.
It was an honor to help Mundi find Bo, and a pleasure to watch how much they all care for each other.