Orphan updates from Zambia

DSWF helped establish, and now supports, Zambia’s only elephant orphanage programme. These amazing animals, often the innocent victims of poachers who kill their mother’s for their ivory, are left abandoned and unable to fend for themselves. With our donor’s support we help fund the rescue and rehabilitation of these orphans and look forward to the day that they are released back into the wild where they belong.

Two of the elephants, four year old Nkala and 11 year old Chamilandu, form part of our adoption programme. With Nkala recently transferred from the nursery facility near Lusaka to the release facility in Kafue National Park and Chamilandu beginning to take her steps back to the wild, they are at very different places in their rescue stories.


Here are the latest updates on their progress:

NKALA – Getting back on track

Over the past quarter, Nkala has faced a few challenges with life in Kafue National Park. Firstly, he suffered from an allergic reaction to a type of grass; discharge and grass seeds were found in both eyes, so the team treated them with saline solution every day until he was back to his healthy self.

Not long after, Muchichili showed similar symptoms, leading the team to believe that as the youngest of the herd and newcomers to the Kafue Release Facility, the pair had been foraging in grasses which they should have avoided. This is all part of their learning process, as they get used to their new surroundings and familiarise themselves with the best places (and the worst places) to explore.

Shortly after he recovered from his eye issues, Nkala’s body condition dropped, which caused much concern amongst the team. His behaviour changed and he became weak, reluctant to join the rest of the herd on the daily bush walks. With immediate vet support from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), it was decided to treat him for suspected babesia – a blood parasite caused by ticks. This decision was based on previous nursery graduate Kavala experiencing the same sudden decline. This type of tick is not found in the areas surrounding the Lilayi Elephant Nursery, where Nkala lived for almost three years. This meant he hadn’t built up any resistance to the parasite, leaving him vulnerable to it when he was transferred to Kafue National Park. With medical treatment, nutritional support and a lot of TLC, Nkala bounced back to full health, eager to join his surrogate siblings on the daily bush walks. We’re so happy with his recovery and to see him interacting so well with the herd again!

CHAMILANDU – Natural bonds

Chamilandu has been showing further signs of her growing independence over the past quarter. She has continued to leave the rest of the herd at lunchtimes and evenings, choosing to explore her surroundings with Batoka.

During one of their adventures into the bush, the pair came across a wild elephant herd and took the opportunity to interact with them. With the keepers keeping a watchful eye close by, Chamilandu was observed approaching the wild elephants, displaying submissive behaviours by presenting her rear to them and even lying down at their feet. This behaviour suggests that her social skills are developing as she attempts to join the herd whilst communicating to them that she poses very little threat. This is a hopeful sign that she will become part of a wild breeding herd in future.

Chamilandu has also continued to show her affectionate nature towards the other orphans. Her protective character was evident when Maramba, a seven year old male within the release herd, injured his foot. While the rest of the herd was walking in the bush during the morning, Maramba stayed within the boma to rest. When lunchtime arrived and the rest of the orphans entered the boma Chamilandu headed straight towards him, gently touching him with her trunk and standing closely next to him. A lovely sight to see, this interaction proved that Chamilandu is a natural matriarch, caring for those within her herd. Her bond with Rufunsa also continues to flourish, and over the past quarter, she’s been observed running towards Rufunsa as she joins the morning bush walks. Her bond with the herd may remain as strong as ever but her desire to venture into the wild is getting stronger each day.

More updates: These updates form part of our regular communications with our elephant adopters. If you would like to follow the lives of these amazing animals why not adopt Nkala or Chamilandu – or both! Discover more by clicking here

Our great adoptions are packed full of information, an exclusive print and a handmade toy lovingly crafted in Zambia.





For more about the Elephant Orphanage Project and how you can support their work please click here

All photos courtesy of the Elephant Orphanage Project – a project of Game Rangers International