Tafika, The Orphaned Elephant

30 September 2009 | Jo Jenkins | Safari and Beach News

On 19th August an orphaned baby elephant was taken into care. He had fallen into a pit in a village 40 miles away and was unable to get out. He was all alone, with no sign of any other elephants nearby. A rescue team from the South Luangwa Conservation Society (SLCS), led by Rachel McRobb, was able to pull him to safety and with the permission from the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) they brought him to Chipembele in the back of a Land Cruiser pick-up. He was named Tafika, after a nearby tourist lodge that reported his predicament, and is about one year old. Tafika means ‘to arrive’ in the local language.
Tafika on arrival at Chipembele.
Fortunately they had just completed constructing a new secure elephant boma. After a first traumatic night, during which he cried out almost continually, he settled down. The Kafue Elephant Orphanage (sponsored by the David Shepherd Conservation Foundation in the UK) was immediatley contacted… they are rearing Chamilandu and Chudoba, two orphaned elephants who were rescued in South Luangwa in 2007 and who stayed at Chipembele for a month each before being transferred to the Kafue Orphanage. They are both doing very well. A KEO elephant specialist, Rachel Murton, and an experienced Zambian elephant keeper, Gift,
arrived here within 24 hours to help advise us and set up a feeding and care system. Two additional keepers and a full time SLCS scout were also engaged. There is at least one keeper by Tafika’s side 24 hours a day… coming from a tight knit family he can never be left alone, even through the night. Rachel left after a few days… thanks for all your wonderful help and advice Rach!… but left Gift behind to manage Tafika’s care. When he is moved to Kafue, at least he will know Gift.
Gift feeding Tafika with a special formula milk, usually 2 litres every 3 hours around the clock. Tafika is now doing just fine and has bonded to his new keepers. He has adapted incredibly well to his new surroundings, despite the trauma of somehow losing his mother. He has just started daily walks and loves to play in a nearby water pool. With ZAWA’s approval we are planning to move him to the Kafue Oprhanage within the next month or so. It is a 30-hour road journey, which
would be too stressful for such a young elephant, so he has to be flown via a charter flight.Tafika plays with his keeper, Sipho, in a nearby pool

Written by Jo Jenkins

Jo’s enthusiasm for safari as a child when her parents worked in Zambia, then Kenya. Jo quickly fancied herself as a safari expert and has been a keen game tracker ever since. Although, more recently, she is very keen to trial many of the (more luxurious) beach lodges we now offer.

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