Meet Mutaanzi David — the first Zambian elephant born from an orphaned hand reared mother and wild…

Sara Drawwater
22 October 2019
Mutaanzi David has just turned 1 month old. He is a miracle. His mother, Chamilandu was dramatically rescued when her mother was shot by…

Meet Mutaanzi David — the first Zambian elephant born from an orphaned hand reared mother and wild bull

Mutaanzi David, the miracle elephant

Mutaanzi David has just turned 1 month old. He is a miracle. His mother, Chamilandu was dramatically rescued when her mother was shot by poachers over a decade ago. This is a perfect story of heartbreaking loss followed by a mother’s heartwarming love for her newborn calf.

This is the ultimate conservation success story which A to Z Solutions was fortunate to be part of, having coordinated the logistics and permits for an international crew who were there to film and document the big event first hand. The crew was on call to ensure they could capture the footage. Though we can’t yet tell you the outcome of this pilot film footage until the whole project has been completed and aired, we can focus instead on the wonderful story of Chamilundu.

Now 13, Chamilandu, affectionately known as Chamma, has been roaming free in Kafue National Park for the last 4 years. Her journey from hand reared to wandering the wilds of Zambia is testament to the amazing work by Game Rangers International (GRI) who, amongst other conservation efforts partner with DNPW to rescue, rehabilitate and release wild animals that are injured or displaced by human activity.

Mutaanzi nestles in the arms of his mother, Chamma

Without mature females around to support her at this critical time, Chamma returned to the GRI boma, her ‘safe place’ in order to give her new baby the best chance of survival.

The team, who have cared for her these past 11 years, and who have been so involved in her survival, knew she was pregnant and had been waiting in anticipation. The entire camp watched in wonder and amazement as, after a few stretches and signs of discomfort, she rapidly gave birth to this beautiful little calf.

Chamma and a few of her trusted team worked together to assist Mutaanzi to stand and guide him to drink. These precious moments were monumental in the GRI project’s history and reduced the male dominated team to tears of sheer joy!

Watch this 1 minute video on the birth of Mutaanzi — you might need a tissue!

As the eldest elephant and the beloved Matriarch of the herd, Chamma has been instrumental in mothering every orphan that has come her way. In a sense, she has been preparing for this moment for the last 11 years. Now she is nurturing her very own wild-born baby in Kafue National Park — a fantastic outcome for a story that started so brutally.

“Chamma has gone from being an unsure new mother to a confident and dedicated mother who is always watching Mutaanzi and always offering a trunk to guide him in the right direction.” Lisa Olivier, GRI Head of Research.

Watch this 1 minute video on Mutaanzi at one month old — cuteness alert!

The arrival of Mutaanzi has caused quite a stir in this unique elephant herd made up of orphaned elephants. The dynamics of the group have changed. The elephants were initially unsure how to react to this new member of the herd. Because they were all orphaned at a very young age, these elephants have not had the experience of healthy young elephants wanting to interact with them. This is an immense learning process for them all. Thankfully they are getting on with adapting to change very well. The future looks bright for Mutaanzi and his unique herd.

This exciting milestone is the result of an 11 year journey for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and GRI partnership, made possible through the commitment and dedication of David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Olsen Animal Trust.

The crew filming and interviewing one of the keepers in front of Chamma and her David, about 1 hour old!

As a champion for conservation, Anita Balletto, Director of A to Z Solutions, couldn’t have been more excited about this project.

“It is always such a pleasure to work with international film crews who come to Zambia to share and promote some of the incredible work being carried out by organisations such as Game Rangers International and their association with DNPW. These small NGO’s are often 100% donor funded so being able to be a part of telling their story to the world is fabulous. I love what I do, and the people I am fortunate enough to encounter along the way. I always get a buzz when working with Conservation groups and filmmakers who are telling the stories that help to promote Zambia as the world class wildlife destination it truly is.”

You can adopt Chamilandu or Mutaanzi to receive exclusive updates and do your part to support Zambia’s rangers as they work tirelessly to safeguard the precious future of Zambia’s elephants, the wild spaces they roam and the people living on the edge of their existence.

Read more about A to Z Solutions here and GRI here.

All photo and video credits, GRI.