Tragedy befalls the little elephant calf Kafue: Latest update from Game Rangers International

Game Rangers International are a charity working hard protect Zambia’s threatened wildlife. Love Nature is currently making two films with GRI, focusing on its Elephant Orphanage Project, which is involved in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing orphaned elephants back into the wild. For more information, please visit our Make a Difference page.


The month of May was a very challenging month for the GRI-Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) when lions tragically killed Kafue, one of the Release Phase Elephants. Kafue was only seven years old but had always been a very wild and wily young elephant.

From the moment he got the chance, he took off with older elephant Chodoba (four years his senior) and began his reintegration into life in the wild earlier than we would have expected. With Chodoba at his side Kafue lived in Kafue National Park (his birthplace) for six months in complete isolation from the EOP Release Facility with the two elephants completely fending for themselves.

Our only link to them was via satellite collar downloads which gave us information about their movements, home range and habitat preferences and also allowed us to track them for visual checks. At the very end of April Kafue’s collar stopped transmitting signals and after much searching his body was discovered underwater in a small lake a few kilometres from the Release Facility. DNPW officials confirmed the cause of death as lion attack.

Our collar data indicates he was with the other Release Phase Elephants at the time of the attack. This tragic event has sparked a re-evaluation of our Release Programme and criteria for release and we have employed further controls to ensure elephants are kept within the security of the elephant boma (a lion proof fencing system) at night for longer, until they are physically bigger and able to defend themselves better against predators.

In addition we have begun to establish an anti-predator training school for the young orphans in order to heighten their responses to potential threats and dangers of the wild before release. Despite this harrowing challenge the EOP remains committed to its mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release elephants back into the wild where they belong.