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Celebrating Wild Motherly Love

From a bona fide ‘super mum’ to orphan elephants bonding with surrogate human ‘mothers’, wild parental figures are an integral part of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) family. We know this can be a sensitive subject for some, and we plan to provide the option to opt out of similar communications soon. But, if you’d like to know more about our wildlife mums, or maybe need a last-minute, conservation themed present for the motherly figure in your life – read on. 

A BIG job: Stepping up to be an elephant’s surrogate mother

If you follow our social channels, you’ll have seen the heartbreaking story of the two elephant orphans – Kasungu and Lumezi. At only 3-4 weeks old, the odds were stacked against Lumezi, and he ultimately lost his fight for survival, despite the incredible efforts to save him. 

The Elephant Orphanage Project, run by long-term DSWF project partner Game Ranger’s International (GRI), was founded with our direct support and funding. With both a nursery in Lusaka and a release facility in Kafue National Park, it takes in young elephants separated from their mothers and herds either by human-wildlife conflict or natural causes. The elephant calves are often extremely traumatised and dependent on round-the-clock care – which falls to the dedicated rangers taking on the role of surrogate mothers. But, with diligence and time, these vulnerable wild orphans are nurtured back to vitality and can begin their journey towards rehabilitation back to the wild. 

We are delighted to say that several generations of orphans have now joined the wild herds of Kafue National Park. Some have even returned to the safety of this sanctuary with their own calves. Others, almost seemingly paying forward the kindness shown to them, take on a role of ‘hanging around’ – providing the calves with a safe environment where they can interact, explore, and build up their confidence in the shadow of wild elephants.

The bonds between the rangers and the elephant orphans are one of the strongest examples of unconditional, parental love within the DSWF family. If you’d like to support this incredible work in aid of Mother’s Day, you can choose a digital elephant adoption as the perfect gift. 

Potential sighting of a super mum

Some of you may be familiar with Dagina, our snow leopard ambassador in the wild and DSWF’s ‘super mum’. Dagina is perhaps one of the most studied snow leopards in the world and has provided over a decade of incredible insights into the lives of these elusive and secretive cats. She has raised at least three litters of cubs, and her daughter, Presnel, starred in an episode of the BBC’s Planet Earth III alongside her own cubs – making it a multi-generational dynasty.

Dagina was born in 2009, meaning she is now 15 years old. Her territory is now held by another of her daughters, and sightings of her are becoming rarer. Whereas we are preparing to one day hear the news that Dagina has come to the end of her long, productive, and much-documented life – we are encouraged to hear of a potential new sighting and await confirmation. In the meantime, we are grateful for the wonderful work her life has enabled – which you can support through a snow leopard adoption

Little Ndaba – Supporting working mothers in Zambia

Our adoption toys are hand-stitched and crocheted by Little Ndaba – an organisation supporting Zambian women to provide for their family with dignity. As ambassadors for the environment, each toy is designed to connect little people around the world with wildlife.

Little Ndaba currently works with 102 women across Zambia. Through Little Ndaba, these women can work from home, often living alongside each other in the same villages. They take great pride in choosing the shapes and materials that call out to them as crafters, meaning each toy is handmade, unique, and never off the shelf. It also means they can spend more time with their families, as well as supporting and learning from each other. 

We guess you could say Little Ndaba is a close-knit community! 

Art and conservation-themed Mother’s Day gifts

If you’re looking for a last-minute, or maybe even a belated Mother’s Day gift for a wildlife or art fan, then the DSWF shop could have what you’re looking for.

There are a number of David Shepherd Wedgewood ceramics in stock, including the highly collectable small and largeplates. Or, perhaps take inspiration from our selection of works from the world-famous Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition – known as the Oscars of Wildlife Art. From incredible prints to original art, there’s something for everyone and at every price point.

Thank you for choosing to support DSWF and enabling us to keep these wild mothers and their families safe. 

Riccardo Maywald
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Gift a DSWF Adoption

If you think your Mum is ‘roar-some’, why not gift a DSWF adoption pack and help protect endangered species from extinction.

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