Today’s keeper handover was one of celebration. As most of the herd moved off to the boma gate
for their morning browse, Chamilandu and Mutaanzi-David remained at the fence close to their keepers
in true celebration for Mutaanzi's second birthday.
Mutaanzi, meaning first born, was the first wild born calf from orphaned elephant Chamilandu and from day one was part of the family. Foster, one of the GRI Wildlife Ranger, remembers the day he was born:
“Elephants give birth in the bush but she came straight to the boma during lunch time, thirteen hundred hours. The boma there by the sausage tree. So we went that side but she didn’t do anything with us. She knew she was the mom and the ground was there for him to be born there. Each and everybody was so happy with his condition and that he was not an orphan. He is a wild one born into the orphan herd.”
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, Chamilandu, who was rescued in November 2007 and went on to become a mother of a wild calf who has not been hand-raised by keepers.
The full story of Mutaanzi-David's birth was reported by GRI HERE
“He has lifted our flag high” says Foster with pride. “He never feed on the bottle. For Mutaanzi's milk, nutrition and what ever else he needs was provided by his mama. During that time when mama laid down, he came to lay there by her side to enjoy sleeping by her. When it was hot, when he was one week-old , as it was this time (summer heat) and hot, Chamilandu would dig with her foot in the ground to find cold sand for the baby to lay down in to help him with the heat. When it was time to go to browse then Chamilandu would lift the baby with her trunk to let him know it was time to go.”
Without the help of elder elephants to support Chamma, the GRI Rangers stepped in to assist with additional protection for Mutaanzi.
It has not always been easy raising Mutaanzi and the keepers learnt a lot. “When he was about one to two weeks, Chamilandu use to run with the baby to the bush from the boma all the time. So we realised that due to Mutaanzi feeding, Chamilandu stomach was empty. So some drivers and keepers provided some browse below the sausage tree during lunch time.” said Foster.
Since the arrival of Mutaanzi, Chamilandu's natural maternal instincts became even more apparent.
"He has grown bit by bit. The growing of a baby elephant is like a human. It grows bit by bit. He has good health, he is browsing. Instead of taking water with his mouth, he started taking with his trunk because he was learning from Mama. With Mama taking water from her trunk he would start beating the water with his trying to copy until he learnt how….Chamilandu is now the mother for the orphans. She is now taking care of the whole family especially the young ones that come from Lusaka.” - Foster.
Sport Beattie, Founder and CEO of Game Rangers International said, "To me, this exciting milestone serves as a beacon of hope for the future of wildlife and wild spaces in Zambia. It represents all that is good and possible when Rangers and local communities are adequately empowered to conserve nature."
Chamilandu and Mutaanzi-David remain at Kafue Release Facility for their protection and to support mother and son who do not currently have a herd in the wild. To help GRI in its mission to give all orphaned elephants a chance to return to the wild, please consider adopting Chamilandu to proved vital and ongoing care to mother and son.