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Back in the Wild
Born August 2019

Chipembele, rescued as his mother suffered a fatal gunshot wound

Thanks to an incredible, collaborative effort, a young elephant orphan was rescued from harrowing circumstances.

In South Luangwa National Park staff from Lion Camp reported a severely injured, lame elephant with a suckling calf. They monitored the elephant until the Department of National Parks & Wildlife and Conservation South Luangwa teams could assess her. They found she had a fatal gunshot wound, almost certainly inflicted by ivory poachers. She was in very poor condition, with her milk already starting to dry up, and would not survive. The calf was at her side, trying to suckle frequently in order to get the nutrition he desperately needed.

A heart rendering decision had to be made, to euthanise her and save the calf.

Both mother and calf were immobilised with sedatives to avoid any more psychological trauma and whilst under sedation, the 2-year-old calf was moved by road to Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust for stabilisation, where GRI Keeper Elvis had been kindly rushed to the scene by Proflight Zambia.

After waking from sedatives, the young calf quickly got to his feet, stretched and started running around the enclosure. He was clearly distressed and disoriented. Having lost his mother, he charged the fence and took some time to calm. His reaction was unsurprising, considering the heartbreak and trauma he had been through. As a milk–dependant youngster he would have not strayed far from his mother’s side throughout his life and the bond between mother and calf is incredibly intense and filled with emotion, much like our own.

After some time, having been provided with food, water and Elvis’s constant company he began to settle. He was willing to accept a bottle (of electrolytes and later milk) from Elvis within 24 hours of his rescue, but he did not relax enough to sleep for over 3 days. This little elephant was a fighter for sure. Due to his tough appearance, and in acknowledgement of this critical support, he was called ‘Chipembele’, the name for ‘black rhino’ in the local language of Chinyanja.

Current status

In January 2023, Chipembele left the Release Herd and appeared to join a wild herd. We are continuing to search for Chip, and to be able to share news on his welfare. Follow our social channels or sign up to our newsletter to receive further information.

Adopt an Elephant - Chip's Story

Adopt an elephant

Chipembele has returned to the wild where he belongs, with thanks to his supporters. If you would like to support an orphaned elephant like Chip, have a look at our adoption packages today.


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