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Kafue Release Facility
Born February 2020 (approx)

Mbila journey to GRI started alongside Shezongo as they were both involved in a dramatic double rescue.

In late June 2020, a very large herd of elephants travelling between the Kafue Flats and the National Park became disoriented and entered a densely populated rural community. Elephants had not been seen in this area for over five years and many of the inhabitants had never encountered one before. In sheer panic and desperation, the community tried to chase the herd away. The elephants became scared and scattered, leaving behind two tiny calves 1km apart. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife immediately deployed a team with GRI, and the area was searched intensely until nightfall, using drones and vehicles, but to no avail.

Milk dependent and extremely vulnerable to predation, the frightened pair were carefully transported to the Release Facility, where they instantly began sucking on the Keepers hands for comfort. The next day they were flown to the Elephant Nursery to begin their rehabilitation amongst the youngest milk dependent orphans.

The young female, approximately 5 months old, was rescued by a pool of water and so named Mbila (um-bee-la), which means to “to swim underwater” in the local language of Ila. She had significant trauma to overcome after losing their mothers and families. She had also sustained a leg wound and with her immune system compromised, due to the stress of her loss and starting a new life, the infection rapidly spread. It took round-the-clock care by devoted Keepers and onsite veterinary support, but she did recover. Now at three years old, Mbila has become the mini-matriarch of the Herd. She has taken on the responsibility of supporting the youngest orphans when they arrive. Her relationship with "Zongo" has remained strong throughout her time at the Nursery, and now they are the oldest elephants there. As per their rescue, the next stage of their journey will be taken together as they are on the brink of relocation to Kafue Release Facility.

Watch Mbila's incredible rescue below. For the full series, visit our YouTube Channel.

Current status

Mbila has settled into her role as matriarch to the Nursery Herd elephants. She has become calmer and friendlier to all the younger elephants. However, like a true matriarch, she knows when to be firm with the youngsters and put them in their place. After Mataya’s rescue, she didn’t want to leave the boma and came running back from the walk when he screamed. In September 2023, Mbila took the next step back to the wild as he relocated with Zongo to the Kafue Release Facility.

Mbila and Shezongo Rescue - Part 1

Adopt an elephant

Mbila is available to adopt with her surrogate brother, Shezongo. Adopting Mbila will support her on her journey back to the wild where she belongs.


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