Muchichili is a one-year-old elephant calf with quite the tale to tell. He was rescued from a tiny island in the Zambezi river by a group of dedicated volunteers, working with the Elephant Orphan Project. The Elephant Orphan Project (EOP) is an elephant sanctuary devoted to the care and management of Zambia’s baby elephants who have been orphaned by poaching and human conflict.

When they found poor Muchichili, nicknamed Muchi, it was reported that he had been alone on the island for weeks. Although it is customary to wait and see if the herd returns when rescuing baby elephants, Muchi was still dependent on his mother’s milk and needed immediate attention. He had to be tranquilized for safe transport. Upon inspection, the team saw the true extent of how thin and emaciated he had become.


It took ten people to carry the youngster back to the waiting boats, which had a 30 minute trip back to the Kanyemba Lodge. Here, he had to again be carried from the boat to a waiting truck, which transported him to the Lilayi Elephant Nursery (LEN), outside of Lusaka.

When they arrived at the LEN, Muchi seemed to perk up at the sight of other elephants. After being by himself on that island, he was clearly lonely and enjoyed the attention of the other elephants and keepers. After some playtime, it was time for bed, and the staff reports that the exhausted baby elephant happily followed the others into the barn.

It’s common for rescued baby elephants to experience a bit of a crash due to the rush of adrenaline they get from their initial arrival. In Muchi’s case, this happened on his second day. To help him recover, he got an IV and bed rest. Luckily, it was short lived. He was back up and eating again in no time!

Like the other elephants at the sanctuary, he will remain at the LEN until he is old enough to move to Zambia’s protected Kafue National Park. There he will join another, larger herd of youngsters who are being transitioned back into the wild, where they belong.


If you would like to learn more about Muchi or the work being done by Zambia’s Elephant Orphan Project, you may visit their website by clicking here.

 All image source: International Fund for Animal Welfare/Flickr