In October 2014, Mphamvu was discovered alone, weak and dehydrated just 15km from the DSWF-supported, Kafue Release Facility and was promptly rescued.
Despite initial nerves, the months since 2 ½ year old Mphamvu’s rescue have seen him live up to his name which means strong in the local language. Coping extremely well with the trauma of losing his family and recovering well from his early poor condition, he has also slowly become part of the herd.
A gradual introduction programme was planned since Mphamvu seemed nervous in the presence of the other elephants. To start with the orphans could interact with him only through the inner boma fence, then, moving to the outer boma , Mphamvu was able to gain confidence spending time with elephants at his own pace. These are crucial in forming bonds with his new family and essential for his emotional recovery.
Once strong enough, Mphamvu’s carer coaxed him outside the boma to new and interesting environments. The oxbow lake quickly became a firm favourite with soft fresh grass for grazing by the water.
Finally Mphamvu gained enough confidence to go on a walk with the rest of the herd. With his carers at a distance, Mphamvu and Kavalamanja played, touched and smelled one another and remained close together. Older male Tafika also allowed Mphamvu to feed close by him, touching and smelling him gently. Rufunsa pushed Mphamvu around a little but this feisty elephant had also started to learn to hold his ground.
The bush walks helped improve Mphamvu’s condition dramatically and today Mphamvu feeds and mud bathes amongst the bigger elephants as if he feels he now belongs. His friendship with Kavalamanja continues and they are often seen moving around together with Maramba in a tight group on the outskirts of the herd. Even Rufunsa has stopped chasing him around!
Integration into the herd is key to Mphamvu’s ongoing wellbeing and his gradual introduction has ensured a strong foundation to his release back to the wild once he is ready.