Chamilandu and Mutaanzi’s big step
Chamilandu, lovingly known as Chamma, arrived at Game Rangers International (GRI)’s Elephant Orphanage Project in 2007 after her mother was killed by poachers.
In 2019, after spending four years roaming free in Kafue National Park, she made the significant decision to return to the elephant boma to give birth to her first calf, Mutaanzi David – named in honour of our late founder, David Shepherd CBE.
Mutaanzi was the first wild-born calf ever to be born to a Zambian orphan elephant and from that moment on, Chamilandu has led him back to the safety of the boma every evening. Without a mature herd of her own for defence, she must have understood the risks of single parenting in the wild.
However, she recently had a change of heart! After demonstrating resistance to returning inside the boma gate, Chamilandu has led Mutaanzi away from the orphan herd and instead sought the company of Tafika to resume her free-roaming lifestyle.
This sudden change in her decision-making sparks a whole host of emotions for the team who have raised her since she was one and a half years old. Whilst we are all thrilled to see her wandering off into the wild, where she belongs, we can’t help but be concerned for the safety of Mutaanzi who, at two and a half years old, is still very vulnerable to predators. We are, however, reassured by seeing Chamma’s close proximity to Tafika, now a significant bull of 13.5 years who has had close experience with lions. Since they both wear satellite collars, we are also able to track their movements around the clock and can confirm they are moving side by side, not too far from the camp.
Chamma’s decision to leave the boma at this time could be prompted by a number of factors: her need for a greater and wider variety of food sources 24hrs a day, the 14-year habit of having used the old boma or her hormonal drive returning to mate again. She may also feel safer at this time of year when prey species are plentiful and lions have other ‘easier’ pickings.
Whilst we will undoubtably continue to ‘worry’ about Mutaanzi, we are comforted by the fact that Chamilandu is taking control and once again making significant steps towards living a life back in the wild where she truly belongs.
You can help us to continue supporting the vital work of our ground-based conservation partners, GRI, by donating today: https://davidshepherd.org/donations/donate
If you would like to support Chamma, you can also adopt her here: https://davidshepherd.org/adopt/adopt-an-elephant/