– We are happy to see wild animals rescued and successfully rehabilitated, take their first steps back to the wild, IFAW said.
Harare, Zimbabwe – Seven orphaned elephant calves, that were rescued years ago from traumatic circumstances, have been released in the wild.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the calves have been moved, “1,100 km closer to freedom after their translocation from Harare to a release site near Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe.”
The baby elephants are aged between three and 13 years old, and have all been rescued and raised by the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)-Wild is Life elephant nursery in Harare.
Some were saved as newborn calves, and all received intense care after losing their mothers and herds, mostly from human-induced causes.
The elephants were transported on a 17-hour-long journey by road to the Panda Masuie Forest Reserve on Zimbabwe’s western border.
This is the second rehabilitation stage which is vital to reintroducing the elephants into the wild, where they can integrate and eventually join established wild herds, migrating through the area.
Unfortunately, Moyo, a female elephant and the first elephant calf rescued by Wild is Life over nine years ago, suffered some injuries en route and is under veterinary treatment.
“Each elephant rescued by WIL has survived despite immense challenges, they have all suffered great emotional trauma from the loss of their mothers and herds and, in some cases, terrible injuries. They have received hands-on care at the project ever since,” said Roxy Danckwerts, Executive and Founder of Wild is Life (WIL).
This group of elephants is the third to be translocated by IFAW and WIL to the IFAW-supported release facility in Panda Masuie.
The 85,000-acre² habitat protected area forms part of the Kavango Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (TFCA) and provides a haven for rescued and wild elephants.
“This is why we do the work, to see wild animals rescued and successfully rehabilitated to take their first steps back to where they belong in the wild,” said Neil Greenwood, Wildlife Rescue Director at IFAW.
“Years of knowledge, experience, and work have been devoted, to creating a successful project for orphaned elephant calves to gain the strength and skills needed to thrive independently,” he added.
The IFAW-WIL project is Zimbabwe’s only elephant rescue, rehabilitation, and release scheme for elephants and part of IFAW’s Room to Roam initiative, forming an integral role in securing landscapes and maintaining connectivity for elephants and other wildlife.
Elephants at the Panda Masuie release site regularly interact with free-roaming herds.
They sometimes spend extended periods with wild elephants, and when they eventually fit, they join the herd.
“Already two elephants rescued and released by the WIL project are showing us the success of this project.
Jack and Sizi, are fitted with radio collars that tell us how they, and their adopted herds, are freely moving over the borders of Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia in Southern Africa,” said Greenwood.