Elephant Orphanage Project Zambia
To Rescue, Rehabilitate and safely Release orphaned elephants back into the wild.
EOP is a project of Game Rangers International, supported by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and working in close collaboration with the Zambian Wildlife Authority
SHF will provide veterinary supplies to support the EOP’s rehabilitation and release facility, including the elephant nursery.
In late 2007 the Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) came into being when a number of baby elephants were separated from their natal families – the tragic victims of illegal poaching activities and human-elephant conflict. A project of Game Rangers International, the Elephant Orphanage Project was established with critical support from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (who have supported Zambia in its fight against wildlife crime for over 25 years). The EOP’s Rehabilitation and Release Facility was built in South Kafue National Park (KNP), where there is a 1,000 strong local elephant population – this maximizes the opportunity for the orphans to socialize with wild elephants and eventually reintegrate with them back in the wild.
Under the age of two, young elephants are incredibly vulnerable and many do not survive without intricate care and nutrient rich milk from their mothers. At the EOP elephant calves are cared for around the clock, with dedicated teams of Keepers constantly at their sides to provide comfort, encouragement and milk feeds every three hours!
As the babies grow and become more independent they are encouraged to feed for themselves as they walk (under close supervision of armed Scouts) in the National Park, and very soon develop strong trunk muscles as they graze and browse from dawn till dusk, gradually on their way to becoming independent wild elephants once again. Their growth rate is slow but steady (similar to humans, with elephants living to approximately 60 years), and it may take them eight - ten years, or more before they feel confident enough to leave the security of this surrogate herd at EOP and venture further into the Park to begin their life back in the wild.
The EOP cared for six orphaned elephants in 2010, and with the current regional trends in poaching and the ongoing human-elephant conflict increasing they are expecting to receive more orphans in 2011.
To reverse the trends which result in orphaned elephants in the first place and also to ensure the elephants from EOP are released into a safe environment, Game Rangers International tackles conservation efforts in Zambia holistically. Therefore, as part of the ‘bigger picture of conservation’ it also operates a Park Protection and Training Programme (PPT) and a Conservation Awareness Programme (CAP).
GRI’s Park Protection & Training Programme - Providing Welfare, Training and Operational Support to wildlife personnel on the front line of endangered species protection. GRI works alongside local communities and the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) to help minimize illegal poaching activities and to provide long-term protection for the National Parks and their surrounding Game Management Areas.
GRI’s Conservation Awareness Programme – To Inspire greater Conservation Awareness and Understanding through education and wildlife sensitization at local and regional levels. GRI are working in partnership with the Wildlife & Environment Conservation Society of Zambia to deliver environmental education programmes throughout the greater KNP area, whilst encouraging involvement and support from inner city and international schools in Zambia.
If you would like to donate money or supplies to this project please click here.