At the Lilayi Elephant Nursery in Zambia, we rescue and rehabilitate orphaned elephants.
When poachers kill female elephants, defenceless young calves can be left behind. Nursing calves are still dependent on their mothers and cannot survive.
Left to fend for themselves, these orphans struggle without the milk they need to survive and the opportunity to learn critical social skills from their mother. They tend to be sicklier and more stressed than their peers and their psychological trauma can linger for decades.
Working with the GRI (Game Rangers International) Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP), a non-governmental organisation based in Zambia, we helped to develop and operate the IFAW-EOP.
It’s the first elephant orphanage in Southern Africa and the second on the continent focusing on returning elephants to the wild. Our teams take orphaned Zambian elephants out for regular walks, put them on consistent feeding schedules and watch over them while they sleep.
The GRI Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) operates in partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), Olsen Animal Trust (OAT) and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) of Zambia.
Once the elephants are old enough to be weaned off milk, we transfer them to a special release facility in Kafue National Park.
With a thousand other wild elephants near the facility, we help the orphans integrate into a wild herd, gaining the herd’s protection and learning the social skills they will need to thrive.
While that happens, we use satellite collars to track their movements, ensure they integrate and help them in the event of an emergency.
*The GRI Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) operates in partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), Olsen Animal Trust (OAT) and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) of Zambia.
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We also work with local communities near the park to develop innovative methods and tools that minimise the potential for animal-human conflicts, such as building fences and planting elephant-safe crops, like chillies.
The result is an environment where orphaned elephants have the skills they need to survive on their own and can peacefully coexist with their human neighbours.
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