Animal Rescue in action, partnerships that save animals

Ian Robinson, Dawn Smith and Katie Moore are presenting ZAWA Senior Warden Sulilo with new radios for use by the SAPU units.  Also in the picture are  r(right of Sulilo: SAPU senior commander Charles Mbao, Dane, Katie, SAPU Senior Support Manager Mr. Mulimo, and Sport Beattie (GRI, far right) and members of the SAPU unit.

One of our goals at IFAW is to maximize the impact we have through synergies- whether within our own programs or with other organizations. I currently have the pleasure of visiting a project that achieves both goals. I am sitting at a camp in Kafue National Park in Zambia with our colleagues from Game Rangers International (GRI)

Together IFAW, GRI and David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation are making a difference for elephants in this area.  Through this collaboration, we are supporting the Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP).

The GRI team rescues elephant calves that are orphaned when their mothers are poached or have disappeared for unknown reasons. This is no easy endeavor.  Although often only a few months old, these animals can weigh 150 kg (over 300 lbs.) and are quite strong. They require long term care to be rehabilitated and then reared until they are old enough and large enough to survive in the wild. 

Through different stages of care the animals are nursed to health at the orphanage. Then the elephants are trans-located to Kafue National Park and gradually transitioned from rehabilitation to life in the wild. They will be fully released at about 10 years old. 

One of the young orphan elephants investigating Dr. Ian Robinson (VP of Programs and International Operations) during a walk in the bush.Selected animals will be fitted with satellite/radio collars to allow staff and volunteers to track them after release and observe their movements and behaviors. As social animals, it is important to document their integration into the wild population to ensure their long-term survival. To see the orphanage for yourself, you can go to this link to a recent TV program featuring the EOP.

Hand in hand with the rehab work, GRI is addressing the root of the problem by establishing Special Anti-poaching Units (SAPU) that work in coordination with Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA). The IFAW Wildlife Trade Program has provided support for these efforts (we presented the team with new uniform t-shirts and radios.  To date they have operated without any radio contact between teams which is a real challenge). 

While visiting the new SAPU camp that is being developed here we had the honor of meeting two of the local SAPU teams and the regional ZAWA commander. They paraded in formation (very impressive) then told us of their accomplishments over the last year (even MORE impressive).  They have captured poachers dealing in both ivory and bush meat (illegal killing of animals to sell meat for food).

In fact, during our visit here a major poacher was arrested by the SAPU and ZAWA units.

It is amazing and encouraging to see what can be accomplished when people work together.  I can’t help but believe that these collaborations are the best path to real conservation success.


For more information on our Animal Rescue efforts around the world, visit our campaign page.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
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