Our partners of the Nature Education Center of Chipembele in the South Luangwa area in Zambia received a call in September that deep in the national park an elephant cow with her baby had been found severely injured by gunshots. Unfortunately, the mother elephant's injuries were so severe that the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) had to put her out of her misery and euthanize her.
This step was necessary to save the baby, who was about 18 months old, because elephant calves are fully dependent on their mothers until they are about 5 years old. Continuous and loving care is essential and the only option for the survival of this little one.
The calf was brought to the Chipembele Center with veterinary care. An experienced elephant keeper from Lilayi Elephant Orphanage near Lusaka arrived the same day and quickly set up a care and feeding station. In addition, 3 local men were organized to help with care around the clock. The little elephant is lively and strong and the team named him Chipembele. Fortunately, the little one recovered very quickly from his trauma and was soon strong enough to be taken to the Lilayi Orphanage in Lusaka, where he is now being prepared for years to return to the wild.
Unfortunately, it also happens that despite all efforts, any help comes too late. Shortly after one had brought the small "Chipembele" to Lilayi, still another orphaned elephant baby was taken up in Chipembele. It was found alone, completely emaciated and weakened, lying on its side. The Chipembele team was able to get the baby to stand, but unfortunately it collapsed again after a few hours.
Quickly, they tried to provide the little one with infusions and medication in order to save her after all.
After all the commotion, calm returned to the stable and Anna, the project's director, lay down next to the baby to give it warmth and closeness. They named it Kakumbi. Anna gently stroked the little one's head and whispered softly in his ear. But Anna unfortunately had to watch how his breathing became weaker and weaker and the baby elephant died despite all efforts. So the little Kakumbi left behind a deeply sad Chipembele team.
"The little one may not have realized how much he was loved" says Anna Tolan "but he was not alone, at least in his last minutes. Working in animal rehabilitation is the hardest job I've ever had, but also the most rewarding!"
Photocredit of all Pictures: CWET
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