It can be difficult to address the elephant in the room. However, it becomes significantly easier when one is standing in your lounge.
At a game reserve in Zululand, South Africa, staff noticed an unusual problem after a 10-day-old baby elephant ran away from its mother and ended up in their garden.
Owner Francoise Maldy Anthony and her colleagues couldn’t believe their eyes when the little adventurer then stumbled into her front room.
New pet: Francoise Malby Anthony, the owner of the ranch, plays with her surprise guest in the living room.
Hard out here: Tom rests her trunk on the sofa after exploring the living room and getting fed.
The young female, named Tom after the ranch’s chef who first discovered the elephant in the garden, is thought to have traveled around 30 miles before ending up at Thula Thula Private Game Reserve.
Ms. Anthony and her staff made sure the baby elephant had food and water as rangers entered the sanctuary to track down its mother.
Mrs. Anthony, who has owned the sanctuary for 15 years, said she has never experienced anything like this – and was shocked to discover the baby was the offspring of an elephant that her husband had saved several years before.
“She must be like the tiniest hobo as baby elephants that never get lost from their herd.
“Remarkably, she came to my house – we have 4,500 hectares of land, and she was discovered the day before she came to my house with her herd at the other end of the reserve.
‘She had walked miles to get here and was quite distressed when she arrived – she looked tired, thirsty, and hungry.’
Mrs. Anthony and her staff let Tom roam freely and were careful not to over-contact the animal, fearing it might turn the mother away.
‘Her mother – who we rescued from a neighboring reserve would allow a hunter to shoot her – was delighted when Tom was finally reunited with her.
“I can’t say the same to Tom – she must have been a bit of a rebel trying to follow the truck as we left.
‘She was only here for a few hours before we managed to get her back, but it was magical.
‘Her herd was monitored overnight to make sure everything was fine, and she was re-accepted.
‘It’s truly a remarkable rescue story. I tried to take a picture but couldn’t use the flash because I didn’t want to startle her.
‘It was a wonderful experience.’
Francoise now lives alone after losing her husband Lawrence Anthony two years ago.
He is a renowned conservationist and novelist who has written a book titled ‘Elephant Whisper: The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Fight to Save His Herd.’
Francoise added: “Some people on Facebook said it was too coincidental that out of the existing 4,500 hectares, this elephant chose to make her way to my garden.
“Lawrence was famous for his work saving elephants and even saving Tom’s mother – people are saying the elephant needs saving and drawing here.
“I don’t really know about it, but I’m sure she couldn’t be out there longer than that alone.
“She was very dehydrated and very stressed – she had been walking for an unbelievably long time.
“The important thing is that she went back to her mother and herd and can now continue with them – unless she decides to roam again.”