Sometimes I wonder who actually reads the newsletter and hopefully this month I will be presently surprised (okay now you can start wondering like I do when someone knocks on my office door and says…”Madam… can I talk to you?”) So in my usual fashion I will say it out directly… I need some money! Well not me in fact but rather an elephant needs the money. Now that I have your full attention I will give you some background information and will insert the letter I have just received from Anna and Steve…
Tafika, the Orphaned Elephant
30th August 2009
On 19th August we took into our care an orphaned baby elephant. 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.
Fortunately we 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.
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.
As you may well imagine, caring for Tafika is hugely expensive. In addition to the milk (now 18 litres a day), mineral supplements, vegetables from the market etc. There are keeper and scout wages and money for food rations/equipment that have to be found. We also urgently need to raise the funds to make his flight possible. He needs to be with other elephants soon… in fact his future welfare depends on it.
Any donation to help with this very special project, no matter how small, would be gratefully received. Please e-mail Anna and Steve for ways in which you can make a payment to Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust. 100% of your donation will go directly on caring for Tafika. Thank you!
With all our very best wishes,
Last week I went down to see baby Tafika, bearing gifts of bananas and pumpkins to help his diet. I also took down my own bush babies and will attach photos of Kyle and Byron playing with him in the sand and water. It was totally amazing to watch the interaction of my children with this wild animal and see their amazement at how human like he is, how he played with them as if they were just other members of his herd. I explained to Kyle, Byron and Tara how he was now an orphan and needed our help and without hesitation Kyle offered his pocket money. Byron pondered for longer and in his usual practical side came up with great schemes ranging from trying to find his mother to how an elephant could fit on a plane. Tara was a lot more wary and would not go too close but bearing in mind I have always said don’t approach elephants and this baby is already weighing anything up to 200 kg and taller than her I have to respect her self perseverance. We all had an afternoon we will remember for a lifetime but this also gave us time to think about why this baby needs our help.
I have also thought long and hard about this and have considered all the arguments about helping one elephant when, with the same amount of money, one can help more than one individual but in my life I have been helped over and above others. Sometimes when one has had the misfortune to lose all your family then maybe you need a bit of help. I will be donating to this cause and would love to give a donation from “Family and friends of Wildlife Camp”, so ask all of you for your help, as the wise proverb says… many hands make light work and no donation is too small so if you can help then you can either contact Steve and Anna directly or send me an email email@example.com and I can give you bank details
Thank you and I will keep everyone updated on this issue
Have a wonderful month
Patsy, Kyle, Byron and Tara
Now I will hand over to Colleen…
Yet another month has passed. We had a good August, which was filled with good weather, fantastic sightings and fun had by all.
The leopard sightings this month have been superb. With just this last week an average of 2 leopards spotted per drive. I have been very jealous of everyone that has been out on drives. They have been sharing all sorts of stories of kills, fights between leopard and hyenas.
The lions too have been busy, with several of the prides making incredible kills. The buffalos fighting back, but were no match for the hungry prides of lions. There were brave fighters to the very end. I unfortunately was not lucky enough to witness any of these amazing sightings.
Dora and I were very grateful for the help that we had from both Jay Fisher and Kyle who were both doing school work experience with us, it was great to have 2 extra pair of hands around. It was sad to see Kyle return back to School in South Africa and Jay headed home to Kitwe to enjoy the rest of his school holidays.
Talking of Jay heading home, this leads into my latest of adventures. Jay had come down with his parents a few weeks earlier with his motor cross bike on the back of their land cruiser, with the idea of riding home. His older brother would meet him half way and they would travel back together. The half way mark being the Luambe National park pontoon. I volunteered to ride with him to the meeting point. Not really having any idea of how far it was or what the road was like, but having never travelled to Luambe before I thought it was a good opportunity to do so. I hired a Jailing 125 motorbike, whose name was Florence and decided to embark on this little trip with Jay. Somehow forgetting I had not ridden a motorbike in 3 years!
Jay and his 230 Honda shot off like a bat of hell, leaving me to eat DUST – literally.. I was covered!! The Jailing, not made for off roading – did not like the sand, and I was skidding and fishtailing all over the place… When we got to the first sand river to cross… I had disaster written all over my face.. Florence and I managed like champs, however on proceeding up the other side of the bank was a bit more of a mission.. But to my surprise we succeeded. We continued through the GMA until we came to the Nsefu sector. We went via the hot springs, where we saw the beautiful crowned cranes congregating, warthogs, puku, reedbuck and impala. The only problem was the road is thick with sand.. And yes you guessed it.. I went flying through the air and landed in a heap.. After Jay had finished laughing at me, we swapped bikes and I got to ride the BIG bike. We went through another few river beds which were much more fun on the bigger bike, and I got to have a few chuckles at Jays expense, although he did not end up eating sand like I had.
Anyway a few more not so empty river beds, lots more dust and several hours later, we reached the Luambe gate.. Jay and I rode, a lot more carefully as the elephants here are not as used to vehicles and people as they are down in Mfuwe, and we were not so sure how they would react to our presence.
We finally reached the pontoon, after a few elephant encounters. We met Jay’s older brother Paddy who was waiting for us. Once crossing the pontoon safely we set off down the road to find a good spot to set up camp. Lets just say, when camping there are a few things you should not forget, bedding being one of them. It was a long cold night on hard sand. But the stars were amazing and the view breathtaking.
Early the next day, we packed up our little camp, and the boys drove with me to the Luambe gate. We saw a beautiful large male leopard, puku, impala, waterbuck and several other species of animals. The Lumabe Park has stunning views and was great to see, however I think I would like to do some more investigating in a vehicle with 4 wheels the next time.
I parted ways with the boys, and headed home on my own,. Florence and I managed to make it all the way home with out any incidents. It was a great little adventure and although I am now covered in bruises and am sure I have a few calluses on my butt cheeks. I would do it again tomorrow.
That’s all for now.
Have a great month and hope to see you again soon. Colls and the Team.