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Mulisani is successfully translocated to the Kafue Release Facility!

Mulisani was found a year ago, wandering alone in the Chidada area of Zambia. It is believed his mother was shot, and that he became separated from his herd as they crossed the Luangwa River. Mulisani was captured and restrained by community member until the GRI Wildlife Rescue team arrived from Lusaka. An initial assessment found him to be a stressed and very thin calf, approximately 2.5 years old. Once stabilised several days later, he was transported to the Lilayi Elephant Nursery, where his wounds were treated and he was provided with a specialised milk formula.

Mulisani thrived during his first year at the Nursery, and at 3.5 years old he started to outgrow the facility both physically and socially. He had begun to behave aggressively towards the three smaller female orphans, rarely displaying any submissive behaviours which are important for his future release success and integration into a wild herd. The time had arrived for Mulisani’s introduction to a larger herd where he would be surrounded by older, more experienced elephants to learn from.

On the 3rd of November, Mulisani was successfully translocated from the Lilayi Elephant Nursery in Lusaka to the Release Facility in Kafue National Park. In the early hours of the morning, Mulisani was loaded into the IFAW Wildlife Rescue trailer, ready for the 10 hour journey to his new home. During the journey, Oliver, Head Keeper at Lilayi Elephant Nursery, stayed in the trailer to check on Mulisani regularly, and give him milk and browse along the way. He arrived safely at the Release Facility and was led into his stable where he stayed overnight, closely monitored by Oliver.

The next morning, Mulisani was introduced to his new herd. Many interesting behaviours and interactions were observed as the 11 herd members investigated the newcomer. Intrigued, they reaching their trunks through the fence that separated them during their initial introduction. The matriarch of the herd, Chamilandu, affectionately greeted him. She was evidently streaming from her temporal glands, indicating her heightened emotion, and frequently placed her protective trunk over his back, offering him the comfort he needed during this time of uncertainty. Mulisani responded well to the interactions but kept looking for Oliver for comfort during this overwhelming period.

During his first week at the facility, Mulisani lagged behind on walks as he wasn’t used to the distance and wanted to stay with the keepers. However, he is becoming increasingly confident and now manages to keep up with the others. He has been observed interacting positively and bonding with all members of his new family. Even though he still gets milk bottles, his attachment to the keepers is slowly decreasing, which will be vital for his future as a wild elephant. He was recently collared and checked by the vet and he appears healthy and happy in his new home. We are confident that he will continue to grow in strength and become a strong member of the Kafue release herd.

Thank you to everyone who helped ensure Mulisani's translocation was a success, especially DNPW, IFAW, DSWF and the Olsen Animal Trust.

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