Chamilandu & Mutaanzi David
Back in the Wild
Chamilandu was born April 2006 and Mutaanzi David September 2019
Chamilandu made history by becoming the first orphaned elephant to give birth to a wild-born calf in Zambia.
Chamilandu was only 1.5 years old when her mother was shot by poachers, leaving her a helpless orphan in South Luangwa National Park. After receiving help and care from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife as well as local conservation NGOs, Chamilandu was flown to the Kafue Release Facility in November 2007.
Chamilandu was a strong, healthy, and boisterous young elephant calf, however, she was severely traumatised by the loss of her mother and family. She suffered from nightmares and even screamed out when she slept, but with the reassurance, care, and attention of her Keepers, Chamilandu began to calm down and settled into her new life.
Over the years, Chamilandu grew into an incredibly affectionate and caring elephant. As the matriarch of the Release Herd, she welcomes and comforts any young new orphans that are translocated from the Lilayi Elephant Nursery.
In 2015, Chamilandu was almost entirely free-roaming, spending most nights outside the protection of the Boma with Batoka. However, in October 2017, In September 2017, Chamilandu was isolated and mounted by a wild Kafue bull elephant whilst in oestrus (reproductively receptive).
On 9th September 2019 Chamilandu returned to the elephant boma with the other orphans at lunchtime. This was highly unusual as she had not been inside for over four months so the team were immediately on high alert. Chamma seemed tired and leaned against the boma structure to rest for a while. When she moved away she looked uncomfortable and was clearly not relaxed. She urinated and a number of the orphans became highly interested in the scent as she displayed nervous behaviours. It was beginning to become very evident that something was about to happen.
The entire team stood in amazement to witness the first wild born calf to an orphaned elephant in Zambia, a truly historic moment for the project and arguably the entire species. Mutaanzi-David represents a success story of an orphaned elephant who went on to become a mother of a wild calf who has not been hand-raised by keepers.
It has been a year since Chamma and Mutaanzi decided to venture out and leave the Release Facility and join Tafika in the wild. She has spent the recent months roaming the National Park in the company of some of the other released elephants and has been spotted several times by the team. They still join the Release Herd on occasion, before wandering off again on their own. We are tracking Chamilandu by GPS collar and the data shows that she is spending most of her time in Ngoma Forest. Rufunsa and Mosi have also left the Release Facility and have joined her herd, which is a typical experience of a wild matriarch as young bulls get increasingly confident and break away from the matriarchal herd.