Orphan Elephant Finally Given a Name!
For two months it was touch and go for number 43, the youngest orphan at Zambia’s Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP). But happily the little elephant has finally turned a corner and been given a name – Lufutuko.
The baby elephant arrived at the DSWF funded Game Rangers International (GRI) elephant nursery in Lilayi after an emergency operation to rescue her from a farmer’s field, where she was found wandering alone. Initially known as number 43 – she was the 43rd elephant helped by GRI’s EOP in the last 10 years – she wasn’t officially named until keepers were confident the vulnerable orphan would survive.
GRI EOP’s Lauren Cawley said: “After a challenging start to life, little 43 has started to overcome her trauma and health issues. She survived the toughest of times, successfully battling a blood parasite and learning to live without the protection of her mother and natal herd.
“We believed she deserved a name that reflected her fight, so she was named Lufutuko, which means ‘survivor’ in the local language of Tonga.”
The rescue of Lufutuko involved transporting the little elephant almost 500km, from Livingstone to the safety of the nursery stables in Lusaka – in just 12 hours. The operation included a two-hour flight and an hour-long road trip to the Elephant Nursery.
It’s believed Lufutuko – or Tuko – may have been left behind by her herd, which had been spotted earlier that the week passing through a field by staff at Livingstone Fish Farm.
“She was assumed to have been away from her mother for a very short period of time at point of rescue, but experience tells us that it may well have been longer than first thought,” said Lauren.
“But Tuko continues to improve and is now enjoying her life at Lilayi Elephant Nursery. She runs into the boma at lunchtimes, excited for her milk bottle, and heads to the boma pool for a nice dip in the mud bath with her surrogate siblings.
“Although Tuko’s confidence is increasing by the day, she still turns to the keepers for comfort, even nudging them until they offer her a hand to suckle on!”
Your donations have helped fund the dedicated care for Tuko and her fellow orphan elephants at the nursery. She now has a long road ahead, and with your help, together we can continue to support her on her long journey through rehabilitation towards release back into the wild.
DSWF established the Elephant Orphanage Project in 2008 with the aim of rescuing, rehabilitating and returning to the wild orphaned elephants like Tuko – which are so often the innocent victims of wildlife crime. The project, now run by GRI with support from DSWF, gives rescued elephants the possibility of one day living in a wild herd.
Once weaned, the young elephants are relocated to GRI EOP’s release facility at Kafue National Park, one of the largest parks in Africa, where they begin the re-wilding process, taking long and regular walks into the bush and browsing in the safety of the outer boma. Here that they come into contact with the wild herds that they will one day hopefully rejoin.
Every year more than 20,000 African elephants are slaughtered by poachers for their ivory and the orphans sadly just keep coming.
DSWF’s aim is to provide safety for the young elephants to grow and gain strength but also to ensure that the wild spaces they return to are protected.
Please help us protect vulnerable orphans like Tuko and continue our fight against wildlife crime by donating here.
You can also help support our work by ‘adopting’ an elephant – adoption packs include a beautiful mounted elephant print by Mandy Shepherd or Julie Rhodes, an adoption certificate, a photograph, a factsheet. Adopt your elephant now!