After orphaned elephants Zambezi and Musolole were successfully relocated to the Kafue Release Facility earlier this year, the younger elephants at Lilayi Elephant Nursery are adjusting well to life without them.

Nkala, age 3 years, recently reached an elephant milestone of pushing down his first tree! Now he often tries out his new-found strength while out on his daily walks. Meanwhile, two year old Muchi has been growing in confidence and even sometimes challenges Nkala to spar and play, which is a great sign of his recovery and development. They often play together in the sandpit, take lunchtime naps side by side and Nkala sometimes gives an affectionate touch to the younger elephant with his trunk.

Zambia’s winter during the last few months has meant vegetation has been low quality and, despite the young elephants drinking two litres of milk every three hours, they had lost around 10kgs of weight in just a month. Keepers soon got their weight back on track with adjustments to their milk formulas and changed the elephant’s browsing location within the park, and now the young elephants are looking very healthy.

Muchi spends more time mudding, dusting and browsing than Nkala, who enjoys playing with the water butt at the nursery. Muchi had been rescued at 18 months old and has had more experience of the wild than Nkala, who was only three months old when rescued. The younger elephant has been teaching Nkala about which plants to choose at this frugal time of the year, important skills for when they are ready to live life in the wild again.

Colchester Zoo’s Action for the Wild charity has been supporting the Elephant Orphanage Project since 2010 with an annual donation of £5,000 towards the costs of veterinary care and food for the elephants.

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