Elephant News from Konkamoya Lodge, Kafue, Zambia
After pangolins, elephants are the most poached animals in Africa. Poachers kill one African elephant, on average, every 15 minutes. According to the Great Elephant Census 2017 (GEC) (www.greatelephantcensus.com), there are now 352,271 African savanna elephants in 18 countries.
The population decreased 30% in 7 years. In Zambia the GEC recorded 21,758 elephants, with a population declines in many regions, a stable population in the Luangwa ecosystem and, bucking the general trend, an increase of 3% in the Kafue ecosystem over the past 10 years, now with more than 8 thousand individuals.
This is encouraging for Kafue, but we cannot afford to be complacent and need to continue fighting poaching, conserving elephant habitats, and mitigating human-elephant conflict. Sustainable tourism can play a key role in this scenario, too.
“After pangolins, elephants are the most poached animals in Africa. ”
In 2007 the southern Kafue National Park (KNP) established the Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) with critical funding from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, with a mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned elephants back into the wild. Today the EOP is part of a conservation initiative developed and operated by Game Rangers International, a Zambian NGO.
Elephant calves can become orphaned due to illegal poaching activities, human-elephant conflict and natural abandonment. With a growing number of orphaned elephants needing to be rescued, the EOP now has two facilities: the Elephant Nursery near Lilayi Lodge, 12km south of Lusaka, where the youngest elephants are cared for, and the Kafue Release Facility, located in the Southern Kafue National Park less than 30 minutes’ drive from Konkamoya Lodge. There are currently 12 young elephants at the release facility, from 3 to 11 years old, being cared for as they are prepared for release into the wild.
Each day, at both facilities, visitors can get close to the elephants behind a discrete viewing wall during feed time. The wall is necessary as it’s important to limit human contact for a safer future for these young elephants. Visiting the facilities is not only a treat but a way to help the EOP, which is 100% donor funded. Donations enable them to continue their work and there is no stronger symbol of hope against poaching activities and illegal ivory trading than a little elephant orphan rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
In addition to this, guests at Lilayi Lodge can take part in a behind-the-scenes tour at the nursery, with walks into the bush to view the elephants in their natural environment. Those at Konkamoya can also watch elephants from the lodge, as they graze the bush in front of the lapa and enjoy their mud baths along the lake shore by the tents.
A big ‘thank you’ to our colleagues at Konkamoya Lodge for this heartening story. You can play your part by staying at Konkamoya and visiting the EPO Release Facility. Use this link for more information about Konkamoya lodge and contact to start arranging your holiday