Our Projects: Zambia - Park Protection Programme incorporating the Elephant Orphanage Project
DSWF supported since: 1984
Meet the EOP elephants by opening the pdf (below left)
Following David Shepherd's recent visit to the Elephant Orphanage Project see the latest video from Zambia... click play on the link at the bottom of this page.
During the ‘poaching wars’, which reached their catastrophic peak in the 1970s and ‘80s, all of Zambia’s native rhinos were wiped out and over 90% of its elephants were slaughtered. In 1989 the international ivory trade was finally banned and elephant numbers in most range states started to slowly recover as a direct result.
Over a long history of support in Zambia, David and latterly through DSWF has mostly supported anti-poaching operations; for example in 1990 embarking on a major conservation project in the Lower Zambezi, providing vital vehicles, boats and uniforms plus rations and fuel for the anti-poaching teams. In 1992 when the Government burned its 12 ton ivory stockpile in a bold gesture to support the international ivory ban and stamp out poaching, DSWF provided substantial funds to step up anti-poaching operations in some of the most remote and depleted parks. The same year, DSWF supported an enforcement conference resulting in the Lusaka Agreement and Africa's first-ever international Task Force directed at fighting wildlife crime across international borders. DSWF also established and supported the 'Investigations & Intelligence Unit' (IIU) and related anti-poaching activities which over the years has been successful in intercepting large seizures of ivory and other illegal wildlife products, bound mainly for the Far East.
However, the recent international decision for a partial lifting of the ivory ban to allow selected sale of ivory stockpiles has re-opened the illegal markets and poaching has increased once again across all range states including Zambia. The prospect of a return to large-scale illegal ivory trading which in turn, is providing substantial opportunities for the laundering of illegal ivory, is very much a reality. As its elephants continue to be targeted, Zambia’s porous borders and lack of resource will simply not be able to contain the potential epidemic The slaughter also leaves behind young orphans whose survival prospects until now have been remote.
The Kafue National Park, the second largest park in Africa, offers one of the most pristine wildlife habitats for elephants and over 50 other species in Zambia. At meetings between the now former President of Zambia, Rupiah Banda, David Shepherd CBE and Sport Beattie of GRI, the President agreed the symbolic and emphatic statement that would be made if DSWF can successfully reintroduce the ‘big five’ back into Kafue National Park and protect Zambia’s largest national park for the nation. He referred to the Kafue as the ‘lungs’ of Zambia, recognising the importance of protecting this precious natural resource. But Kafue’s wildlife, including its elephants remain vulnerable and until protection can be improved there is little hope of reintroducing black rhino.
So, working with the authorities, DSWF and GRI have started a new Park Protection Programme which aims to stop poaching and therefore minimize its devastating and costly impact on wildlife populations and local communities and suppress the increasing illegal wildlife trade currently being experienced in Zambia. The project is based in South Kafue and encompasses two main components; proactive species protection through a special anti-poaching unit, ranger training and welfare support and the elephant orphanage project to rescue, rehabilitate and release elephants orphaned as a direct result of poaching.
Since early 2008, this orphanage has been built and developed by the project. And it all started with an elephant called Phoenix who was rescued by DSWF in February 2001 when, just weeks old, she was found trying to suckle from her dead mother. Against all the odds, Phoenix pulled through and became the catalyst of this exciting new project. Shortly after her successful release in the Kafue, Phoenix contracted bilary, previously unrecorded in elephants, and tragically died. The orphanage was named Camp Phoenix in her honour and her memory lives on through the successful rescue, rehabilitation and release of new orphans.