Nzou, 46, has lived in Imire Black Rhino and Wildlife Conservation area in Zimbabwe since her parents were killed in the 1970s. Norman Travers, Imire's founder, originally put Nzou with a bull elephant within the only large herd animal which Imire had at the time - the buffalo. When the bull died, Nzou had become acclimatised to living with the buffalo and had even taken on some of the characteristics of the buffalo and lost some of her elephantine qualities.
Imire owner Judy Travers said "Nzou is the matriarch of the entire farm but she chooses to spend her time with the buffalo. We have tried to introduced her back to the elephant herd on the farm but she's really happy where she is."
Nzou towers over the her herd of buffalo as she is their matriarch.
I'm in charge! Nzou and her buffalo herd. She protects them, looks after them.
Nzou and her buffalo herd have their own way of communicating;
they understand her rumbles and she, in turn, understand their sounds.
Nzou is happy with her unusual herd and as long they accept her
as their leader, she is content to be their matriarch.
Nzou has been with the buffalo herd so long that she has
forgotten how to speak to other elephants.
Nzou has never lost her elephant's instinct for loyalty. Mathew, her handler for many years was once badly gored by one young male buffalo. Terribly hurt and losing blood, he crawled to the fence, accompanied by Nzou, guarding him against further attacks by the buffalo. Upon reaching the fence line, she stood in front of him as a massive protective shield, until help arrived from another part of Imire.
Nzou does not respond to the other elephants on Imire-perhaps she no longer understands what they are saying. She is happy with her unusual herd and as long they accept her as their leader, she is content to be their matriarch.
Alan CY Kok