There’s more than one elephant orphanage in Africa. I visited one in Zimbabwe, run by IFAW and ZEN.
Many elephant babies are orphaned when the mothers are killed for their ivory tusks. Animals are slaughtered throughout Africa. Those at the biggest risk are elephants and rhinos. If something isn’t done soon, these animals could only be in zoos or be extinct within twenty years. Their biggest predator is human beings.
There are National Parks with rangers. But animals have natural migration paths. They don’t know when they move beyond the park boundaries and into danger.
It’s a complicated issue. The poaching cartels go into the villages to find experienced hunters and trackers. The cartels hurt and kill rangers. The cartels are also running drugs and the sex trade. It’s a politically, ecologically, and economically charged issue.
Three quarters of the poached ivory goes to China.
On a brighter note, the elephant babies are few with a special formula six times a day. Guardians stay with them all the time.
The elephants are trained and rehabilitated so they can return to the wild and join a herd in their natural habitat, not just live in a sanctuary.
IFAW has made great strides. In some regions, they have stopped poaching hands before they kill, and are working to keep the cartels out of Africa and control wild animals. If we cannot expand on this success, it doesn’t bode well for people or animals.
Our guides were great. The African people and those in Madagascar were so friendly and kind.
Many people are involved in the rescues and rehabilitations. It’s not just about feeding a cute baby elephant. It’s a 24/7 commitment. People who go on fancy safaris don’t know about these complex situations. Riding around in park is not the real situation. Many of those animals are used to people. There’s far more to the situation that what most people see. I was privileged to go on this trip.