A Tale of Two Elephants
Elephantopia is proud to be working alongside GRI Elephant Orphange in Zambia. We’d like to take a moment to share this moving story of Chodoba as he is learning how to be a wild elephant in Kafue National Park. The elephant we sponsor, Kavala, is also now living at Kafue National Park. Learn more about Kavala here.
Kafue Research Project has captured the milestone event of 9-year-old orphaned elephant Chodoba, one of the Elephant Orphanage Project herd, socialising with wild elephants near a waterhole named Chintumba Pool,which is situated close to Camp Phoenix. Wild elephants frequent this area at night but we were lucky enough to capture this encounter in the late afternoon light.
A wild herd of 3 adult females, 2 subadult males (both with longish splayed tusks) and 3 calves approached the pool at 18:00 hrs, with one of the females moving ahead to be the first to drink. This young adult female was drinking alone at Chintumba pools and then turned around to move up the bank a few metres. At that moment, Chodoba appeared at the top of the bank coming from the direction of Camp Phoenix, and without hesitating, he moved quickly down the embankment towards her. She stood with her ears out as he approached and when he was about 5 metres away, he reduced his speed and approached slowly and raised his trunk. He reached out with his trunk, as did she, and their trunks overlapped as they greeted for 10 seconds. [See photos- Chodoba on right]
Then he noticed a subadult male half-way between the herd and the pools and moved deliberately towards him. When he reached him he immediately engaged in sparring and was dominant to the smaller male.
By this time it was just on dark, with viewing only possible through binoculars. The herd had increased to more than 20 elephants, and Chodoba approached the group without hesitation, immediately engaging with a group of 4 male subadult/calves who were on the periphery of the group. There were no reactions to him by any members of the large herd – it was as if he himself was a herd member. He sparred with the smaller males for a while and then backed away from them, shaking his head and then lifting his trunk high. He was last seen in the middle of the herd, sparring with an elephant of equal size.
This is an exciting event for GRI as we have seen that Chodoba already has social ties with the wild breeding herds that are resident in the area, and he is accepted by them. This will improve his potential to breed with wild females as he matures.
Elephantopia is thrilled to know that the other wild elephants in the area are open and responsive to allowing the orphaned elephants to join their herds. One day, Kavala will be joining this family. For now, we are thankful for the GRI rangers who spend 24/7 with her to care for and keep her safe. We are also thankful for all the ele-advocates from around the world who partner with us to help sponsor Kavala. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to Join the Herd and sponsor Kavala with us.