Kafue Release Facility
Born March 2020
Shezongo was rescued after being found wandering alone after his herd was scared away after entering a densely populated community.
In 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 male, who was approximately 4 months old, was named Shezongo after the Honourable Chief who too life-saving action in calling for help upon learning that the calves had been separated from their herd. “Zongo” as he is now affectionately known, was less developed than Mbila, he had not learned how to use his trunk. He had significant trauma after losing his mother and herd, and initially refused the milk he was offered, which was vital to his survival.
Shezongo has stayed close to his surrogate sister, Mbila since their joint rescue. They have been a constant comfort to each other as they faced a new reality in the safety of the Elephant Nursery.
Zongo has grown into his role at the Nursery as the dominant bull. He has impressive thick tusks which are developing rapidly. He challenges Mbila in certain ways, such as beating her to the best fruits from the trees. He has developed a strong relationship with younger males, Wamwayi and Daliso and spars with them both to assert his dominance. In September 2023, Zongo took the next step back to the wild as he relocated with Mbila to the Kafue Release Facility.