The first time our Keepers saw Zongoloni, she had her trunk draped lovingly on her mum. But sadly, it wasn't a family portrait of happiness. At just 18 month's old, Zongoloni was in fact bravely guarding her dying mother who had collapsed because she had been shot by poachers. Defenceless and clearly frightened, Zongoloni was trying to keep her mother safe, as she was unable to stand. It was clear she had tried though, her scuff marks in the dirt.
With no hope of recovery for her mum, and with Zongoloni still milk dependent, a rescue team made up of elephant Keepers from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust allowed her to have a last feed and her final moments with her mother, before taking her into their care.
Taking the lives of mothers, like Zongoloni's, young elephants and old Tuskers, the killing is indiscriminate. And it leaves behind orphaned babies like Zongoloni who, with no help, have no hope of survival. Devastatingly, without action to stop it, ivory poaching could wipe out Africa's elephants within our lifetime. We can't bear a future without elephants and that's why we are running for their lives.
We want to ensure The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust can be there for any orphaned elephant in need offering a safe haven, a second chance at life and importantly, a new family. Every orphaned elephant needs intensive care for the first few weeks including veterinary care which can include IV drips, regular milk fees, warmth, shelter and 24/7 companionship. When the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescued Zongoloni, she was so traumatised and deep in grief that it took several weeks for her to build bonds with her rescuers. Thankfully, she soon realised that despite the violence caused by human poachers, her human carers could be trusted.
But we don't just want to ensure that orphaned elephants can have a second chance. We want to stop poachers destroying other elephant families too and fund projects to help keep wild herds safe. At The DSWT, nine Anti-Poaching Teams, Four Mobile Vet Units and a skilled team of pilots work 24/7 to keep wild elephants including ex-orphans safe.
How your fundraising can help The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust:
Zongoloni is now learning how to live life as a wild elephant at the DSWT's Umani Reintegration Centre. In a few years, she'll gradually made the transition back to a wild life. By running today, we can give her a safe and protected wild future and give other orphans the chance at a wild life too.
If you want to find out more about the work we're doing, visit www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org.