Reuniting an Orphan Elephant and Her Mom, Perhaps, With DNA and Luck

Nania beat the odds to survive separation from her forest elephant family in Burkina Faso. Her caretakers hope DNA testing may help return her to the wild with her family.

The elephant was alone and dehydrated when villagers first found her. It was September 2017, and the motherless mammal wandering near Boromo in Burkina Faso was only 2 or 3 months old.

“She was tiny,” said Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, who is currently the senior program officer for European disaster response and risk reduction for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The elephant must have been discovered within a day or two of separating from her family, Ms. Sissler-Bienvenu guesses. “She wouldn’t have survived otherwise.”

Many orphaned elephants don’t make it. But with the help of people in and around Boromo, international conservationists and her best friend, a black-and-white sheep named Whisty, the scrappy elephant is now about 4 years old and thriving. Children at a nearby school named her Nania, or “will.”

Read more:

Share This Article