Emergency Response

Elephant Orphans in Zambia

DSWF has been supporting conservation in Zambia for over 30 years. Anti-poaching has always been at the heart of what we do, providing vehicles, boats, uniforms, rations and fuel for anti-poaching teams. An international decision in 2008 to partially lift the ivory ban to allow selected sales of ivory stockpiles re-opened the illegal markets and poaching increased across all elephant range states.

DSWF established the country’s first Elephant Orphanage Project – To donate click here

In 2008, DSWF established the country’s first Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) with the aim of rescuing, rehabilitating and returning to the wild these innocent victims of wildlife crime. Today, over 30,000 African elephants are illegally killed each year for their tusks and the orphans keep coming. Our aim is to provide safety not simply for the young elephants to grow and gain strength but to ensure that the wild spaces they return to are protected.

With park protection and community outreach very much a part of the project blueprint our goal is to allow elephants and other wildlife to thrive and survive in Zambia’s wild spaces.

The project, now run by Game Rangers International (GRI), has two main sites, the Nursery Facility in Lilayi and the Release Facility in Kafue National Park:

The Nursery provides the round-the-clock care and attention that the young orphans desperately need as they recover from the trauma of losing their families. With each orphan drinking 2 litres of milk every 3 hours and the need for medical treatment the keepers stay on site 24/7.

When weaned, the elephants are relocated to the Release Facility in 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. It is here that they come into contact with the wild herds that they will one day rejoin.

Elephant orphans on their daily walk in Zambia
Photo: Jo Hallett
The Elephant Orphanage Project is a project of Game Rangers International, established by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, in close collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and International Fund for Animal Welfare.

There are a number of volunteering opportunities through this project – for more on volunteering in Zambia with GRI click here

Did you know?

DSWF helped establish Zambia's first elephant orphanage and remains a principle funder