With the plight of Zimbabwe’s elephants already in the headlines this week, the founder of a “nursery” for elephants has vowed to fight for the life of the newest arrival, a tiny calf found abandoned and exhausted next to a dry waterhole in the south of the country.
Rangers in the Save Valley found little “Zuwa” as temperatures soared due to a heatwave afflicting parts of the country, especially the south.
There was no sign of his herd. Fearing predators, they took him to a safe place and alerted the nursery, according to Wild is Life Trust and Zim Ellies, which runs the elephant orphanage.
“We believe he was too exhausted and weak to keep up with his family, who were in desperate need of water,” the trust said.
Zuwa, which means light in Zimbabwe’s Shona language, is less than a week old and needs treatment for his navel which is still raw so soon after his birth.
State parks rangers helped move him to the nursery near Harare, where five elephant calves are already being cared for.
Roxy Danckwerts, founder of the trust, captioned photographs of the calf, who is seen being moved out of a sandy enclosure and then resting on a green lawn: “The new little chap! Not much sleep, a lot of milk preparation and a LOT of cleaning up! But so worth it … we will fight for this guy, of that one can be sure!”
Three of the elephants being cared for at the nursery were part of a group captured in Hwange National Park for export to China this year. But they had injuries that pre-dated their capture and were not part of the more than 20 elephants shipped from Hwange across the world in July.
Elephants are in the news in Zimbabwe following the poisoning of more than 40 in Hwange and Kariba in the last three weeks, and the news yesterday that one of the biggest elephants in living memory was killed by a German hunter on a legal safari last week.