Zimbabwe Independent

A MAJOR milestone was reached by Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery (ZEN) after the first six rescued elephants were trans-located from the Rescue Facility near to Harare, to the Re-Wilding facility in Matabeleland North.

The orphan elephants, which have been rescued in different parts of Zimbabwe mainly due to poaching, but also injury and abuse, have completed the first stage of their rehabilitation process. These elephants beat the odds to survive and now will be given the opportunity to return to the wild.

“The six elephants were darted, loaded onto trucks and driven across the country. The journey took 16 hours and covered 900km. The exercise was a complex one involving multiple stakeholders and was an overwhelming success,” ZEN said in a statement.

“Wild is Life led the operation in partnership with International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and in collaboration with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), Forestry Commission ElephantsRhinosPeople (ERP), ZNSPCA and Conservation Solutions.”

Upon arrival, in the early hours of the morning, the elephants walked off the truck into a boma at the ZEN/IFAW Re-Wilding facility in the Panda Masuie Forest. Immediately after walking off the truck they started feeding and drinking water provided to them in the boma.

“They have now entered into their new routine and are roaming around a protected sanctuary area and adjusting to their new environment. After a few weeks the rescued elephants will be able to roam with their wild compatriots in the 34 000 hectare Panda Masuie Forest,” ZEN said.

“The forest is now being co managed by Wild is Life, IFAW and Forestry Commission under an innovative new arrangement that will be sustained in part by eco-tourism. Panda Masuie Forest forms part of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA)– home to the largest remaining population of wild elephants in the world.”