Home News News New two-month old orphaned elephant rescued in South Luangwa

New two-month old orphaned elephant rescued in South Luangwa

Lauren from the Elephant Orphanage Project Reports:-

“On 7th December 2017, a tiny orphaned elephant calf was rescued by the ‘Department of National Parks and Wildlife’ (DNPW) with support from ‘Conservation South Luangwa’ (CSL).  With quick action and veterinary support the two month old calf was transported to the nearby ‘Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust’ where Anna Tolan has become renowned for her incredible wildlife rescue and rehabilitation work. Anna has previously provided invaluable initial stabilisation for three of the Elephant Orphan Project (EOP) herd and she contacted us immediately to mobilise support for this latest arrival. With thanks to our generous friends at ‘Proflight Zambia’, EOP’s Consultant Vet Nurse Liz was able to fly to South Luangwa just hours after receiving the news, where she found the fragile female orphan in desperate need of help. The calf was dehydrated, stressed and showing the initial signs of shock. With some intensive care and TLC by Liz, Anna and her team, this little lady is now in the best possible hands, to give her a chance for survival.

At such a young age and without teeth, elephant calves are entirely milk dependant and will succumb to dehydration and starvation rapidly without their mother by their side for nourishment and protection. Without intervention she would have surely died (she would not have been adopted by her family herd since they could not have fed her), however raising an elephant calf is never straightforward as they have a very sensitive digestive system and are such intelligent and emotional animals and the stress of losing their mother at such a young age can sometimes be too much to bear.

Although she was frightened and weak, the little orphan managed to drink some electrolytes and small amounts of a specialised milk formula, which provided her with some of the nutrients she urgently required. In the first few days she has also had a good amount of sleep, which is extremely important at this early stage of rescue to ensure she does not expend too much energy and rather conserves it for her recovery.

Her condition is surprisingly stable for such a skinny and fragile little elephant. She has so far managed to maintain energy levels and body temperature, although is suffering from diarrhoea, which is expected when a wild animal is introduced to an artificial milk substitute. With careful management of the formula, we hope she will overcome this as she is in desperate need for nutrients for survival. She is being treated for an abscess on her head and is also starting to teeth; both of these stressors only add to the physical challenge of recovery but we are doing whatever we can to support her.

Five days on and she is improving daily, becoming stronger and more confident and showing interest in her new surroundings and even taking a mud bath. She is now starting to form bonds with her caretakers, which is vital at this stage as she is yearning for her mother and seeking comfort; having these close bonds will help her to overcome the trauma of losing her mother.

With her promising progression, she has already been named; a positive indicator that the team believes she stands a good chance of survival, however it is still very early days and she is very vulnerable; we can never completely relax until the crucial two month post-rescue stage has passed. This little fighter has been named Matizye (pronounced Mat-ee-zjay), after the river by which she was found. Matizye still has a long way to go before she is back to full health, and the coming days will confirm whether she is strong enough to be transported to Lilayi Elephant Nursery, where she will be reassured by the presence of the other orphans, who will then become her surrogate family.”

Click here to read more about the Elephant Orphanage Project and to donate to our work helping protect elephant orphans in Zambia


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