Zambia elephant orphanage delivers hope
FOUNDED IN 1969, THE INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE ( IFAW) SAVES INDIVIDUAL ANIMALS, ANIMAL POPULATIONS AND HABITATS ALL OVER THE WORLD. RECENTLY THEY ARRANGED FOR IAIN WEBB AND HIS PARTNER TO VISIT THE LILAYI ELEPHANT NURSERY NEAR LUSAKA, ZAMBIA
When Michael and I arrived at the orphanage, we put on the green coats that the caretakers all wear when they interact with the elephants, and headed to where they all sleep at night.
We found the staff focusing on the care of an infant elephant that had been flown in about two weeks earlier. This baby was approximately one-year-old, and had been on her own after her mother was killed by poachers about a month before she was found in a local village. She was very malnourished, with soft tissue swelling (edema) related to her severe malnutrition.
Unfortunately, on the day we arrived, she was not doing well. She previously had had a good appetite, but that morning had stopped eating and was showing signs of distress. Her belly had swollen up, and it was unclear whether this was related to severe constipation or whether she had an advanced hernia blocking her intestines.
The vet was going to examine her the next morning. We later learned that despite the team’s best efforts, this young one passed. Given how sick she had become, this was not a surprise. But it was still very sad, and reminded us how difficult the work of this orphanage can be.
The facilities of the orphanage include several acres of open land, where the elephants roam during the day with their primary caregivers, with whom they form strong bonds very quickly when they arrive. A sleeping area has been created with assigned spots for the animals and the caregivers. There is also a small fenced-in area with a water hole as well as a viewing platform.
The platform allows local families and school children to visit and watch the elephants when they are in the main area of the orphanage in the middle of the day, usually playing in the