ARUSHA, Tanzania, June 5 (Xinhua) — Tanzania is expected to launch the country’s first ever baby elephant orphanage in Arusha in northern part of the country, the event which will go in line with the baptism of the first calf to be adopted under the facility.
Lazaro Nyalandu, Tanzania’s Minister for Natural resources and Tourism, said on Thursday that the Ivory Orphanage will start with 52 little elephants once it opens in a few weeks’ time.
The orphanage is for elephant babies after their mothers were killed by poachers in the ongoing illegal ivory hunting spree which is affecting the East African nation.
The minister said more and more baby elephants have been forced to roam the wild alone without guidance or protection, as their parents have been killed by illegal elephant poaching for their tusks.
“Many young calves reportedly wait by their dead mothers for days after they have been killed, during which time the babies slowly deteriorate with no mother’s milk to survive,” he said.
The structure, divided into more than 50 cubicles each to house a baby elephant, features soft saw-dust floors, complete with a bed which is covered by special sheets. It seems like those small jumbos are expected to sleep on real beds, fed special foods and given real milk throughout the time that they are to be nurtured.
The orphanage will take in the baby elephants and care for them until they are ready to be released back into the wild. It will be both built and operated by the African Wildlife Trust, a Tanzanian nonprofit organization run by volunteers whose main goal is to save the African elephants.
The orphanage’s home base will be located on the boundary of Kikoti Safari Camp, and there will be another location in nearby Arusha that will open on an as-needed basis when elephants need medical care.
“Tanzania won’t be the first country to set up such facility, our neighbor Kenya established an elephant orphanage first,” the minister said, adding that the project is a temporary one because the country is working to replenish the elephant population back to the original 100,000 elephants by the year 2030.
The Ivory orphanage follows recent reports that Tanzania has lost over 60,000 elephants in the past five years mostly likely by poaching activities plaguing the nation, as the killed mammals left behind many calves unattended.
The latest wildlife census in 2014 shows that the country has a total elephant population of 43,521, compared to the 2009 census of 109,051 elephants in the East African nation.