Lilayi Elephant Nursery welcomes a new calf rescued from Lower Zambezi Island


Photo: Rescued calf, the latest addition to the orphan herd at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery (LEN)
Game Rangers International, GRI – Elephant Orphanage Project, Zambia once again get a special mention… On 11 this year a new elephant orphan was rescued by GRI and DNPW, (Department of National Parks and Wildlife, formerly Zambia Wildlife Authority-ZAWA) were right beside them.

A special thanks for the support received from Kanyemba Lodge & Kanyemba Island Bush Camp as well as Jacana Enterprises whom were both close by. Muchichili Lodge, Chiawa, Lower Zambezi (opening later this year) are delighted to hear that the calf has been named after their lodge.

Calf sedated on Hulungwe island
Calf sedated on Hulungwe island

As luck would have it Muchichili (the Goba word for Winterthorn, a tree that grows in abundance on the island) had a number of people looking out for him as Ivan, (EOP Head Keeper) was in the area on an Orphaned Elephant Awareness Campaign and could therefore respond immediately.

From reports received by Kanyemba Lodge and Jacana Enterprises Ivan was able to access the island and determine that he was dealing with a milk dependant youngster. Reports from local fishermen suggest the calf may have been on the island by himself for up to two weeks, and no herds had been seen on the island for some time.

EOP decided to monitor the calf for a couple more days to allow every opportunity for a natural reunion with his herd. Ivan was ably assisted by Francis and Justin, Wildlife Police Officer (WPO) from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.

calf being carried to the boats
calf being carried to the boats

The EOP Rescue team were generously assisted with boats, staff and equipment from Kanyemba Lodge. The young male was found and sedated by the NNPW Vet Dr Innocent N’gombwe. Then followed the labour intensive procedure of carrying the calf to the boats, which required the manpower of 10 people.

Back at Kanyemba Lodge, even more manpower was required to carry the calf, still sedated, from the boat and up to a Land Cruiser, kindly provided by Conservation Lower Zambezi with the EOP rescue crate ready with dry grass and browse for the journey.

During the drive back to the Lilayi Elephant Nursery (LEN), the calf was calm and standing up the whole time. When he was let into the LEN Boma he was understandably exhausted after the traumatic day.

The calf is approximately 1½ years old and despite being dehydrated and malnourished he still seems strong. A closer inspection revealed exposed ribs, thin and patchy skin and warts on his trunk, all common symptoms for elephants in distress and poor health.

When Muchichili saw the other three elephants at LEN, he was very excited and sought close contact with them. The two older elephants took great interest in the new member of their herd.

Muchichili at Lilayi elephant orphanage
Muchichili at Lilayi elephant orphanage

During his first night at the Nursery, Muchichili allowed the keepers to handle him and it seems like he is desperate for company after his time alone on the island. Muchichili will receive a high level of care around the clock in order to recover physically and gain the necessary confidence to one day live back in the wild where he belongs.

GRI – Elephant Orphanage Project would like to thank:

Dr Innocent N’gombwe from Department for National Parks and Wildlife/ ZAWA for veterinary expertise.
GRI – Wildlife Veterinary Project (WVP)

Wildlife Police Officer’s Francis and Justin for monitoring the elephant for many days and for assisting with the rescue.
Riccardo, Megan, Raphael, Thomson, Richard, Lazarus and many other staff from Kanyemba Lodge from invaluable support before, during and after the rescue
Ophen from Conservation Lower Zambezi for carefully driving the elephant (vehicle kindly provided by CLZ) and David from Muchichili Safari House for supporting Ivan to monitor the orphan via boat.