Home News Daliso’s rescue

Daliso’s rescue

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Thanks to a collaborative effort, another young elephant has been offered a second chance at life. The small calf, named Daliso, is now being rehabilitated by our ground-based partner, Game Rangers International (GRI), with the hope for a future release back into the wild.   

Image credit: Game Rangers International

On the 14th June, Daliso and his mother were spotted in distress near Chikunto Lodge in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Struggling to walk, it soon became apparent that the mother elephant had been shot in the leg. Wildlife Vets from Conservation South Luangwa and Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW) were called to assess her for treatment but tragically, the bullet had penetrated through her leg and the wound was considered fatal. 

Being a tuskless elephant, the gunshot was likely a result of human-wildlife conflict – an ongoing challenge in areas where elephants and humans come into contact, especially when they are both competing for the same resources for survival.

The mother elephant was examined thoroughly under sedation, but the prognosis was the same and sadly, she had to be euthanised. This is an incredibly sad waste of a majestic life and one that will have a lasting impact on little Daliso. 

Daliso, meaning ‘blessing’, was sedated and transferred to the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust for stabilisation, essential rehydration and nutrition. When the young calf woke up to find himself in a strange enclosure without his mother, he was naturally distraught, traumatised and screamed with loss. However, elephant keeper at GRI, Audience, was there to help settle the calf and comforted Daliso from the moment he woke up. Audience provided a consistent and reassuring presence and within 24 hours of his rescue Daliso was drinking well and starting to settle. 

Within a couple of days of consistent love and care, Daliso was comfortable enough to allow his carers inside the enclosure and this was a significant step forward in terms of the trust he was developing with them. DNPW vet, Dr Lengwe, was able to conduct a physical inspection and gave him the ‘all clear’ for travel to the Elephant Nursery, of which DSWF is a founding and ongoing partner. Transporting an elephant across the country is no small feat and a number of logistical hurdles had to be overcome including organising a crate for safe transport, road transfer, permissions, vets, and a plane that could fit an elephant!

Daliso’s journey to the Nursery went incredibly well. He willingly walked inside the transport crate, encouraged by Audience and a milk bottle. He was given a light standing sedation to help reduce stress and then was driven on the back of a truck for nearly two hours to the airport before being lifted and loaded onto the aeroplane (with half the seats removed for this special passenger). Once inside the plane it was almost a two-hour flight to the Nursery, and Daliso remained calm throughout – receiving constant reassurance by Audience. 

Image credit: Game Rangers International

He was offloaded onto a vehicle and was driven around to the stable door where he was coaxed out of the crate and into the stable with the other orphans already inside theirs and making a lot of noise and showing interest at the newcomer.

Daliso moved easily around his stable exploring the new smells, all the while supported by Audience. He was amazingly calm and had a very settled first night in his new home, drinking milk formula regularly and getting a lot of very well-earned sleep.

Although Daliso’s story is one of tragic and unnecessary loss, with your support, we are able to provide him with a second chance at life as he starts his long journey of rehabilitation with the Nursery herd.

At just over one year old, it is likely that he will be within the care of our ground-based conservation partners, GRI, for the next 10 years before he is ready to return to the wild where he belongs. 

Image credit: Game Rangers International

Please help us to continue supporting this vital conservation work by donating today: https://davidshepherd.org/donations/donate 

Drag Read