elephantWhat an awesome few weeks we have had on the Kafue Research Project! Firstly the oldest female orphan and ‘matriarch’ Chamilandu decided that she no longer needed to sleep in the outer boma with the other orphans every night, and since the beginning of the year has been joining Chodoba on some of his nightly adventures in the woodlands around camp. This has taken us all by surprise as she has a strong attachment to one of the younger orphans,Rufunsa, and they have previously been inseparable. But we will come back to ‘Chama’ in a minute….
Last Tuesday night we went to bed nice and dry, only to be woken up at 3:30am by our scout on the radio saying ‘I think we have a little water problem’. Theo, Manager of the Release Facility, went outside his tent to be greeted by about half a metre of water running through the office block! So the next few hours were spent trying to get everything in our offices up high enough to keep things dry; sadly it was too late for some books and paper work.
As the sun came up we could then see the full extent of the flooding, which was much worse that it had ever been previously. The 8 orphaned elephants were stuck in the outer boma due to floodwaters blocking the exit gate, so the fence had to be cut and the ele’s had to be walked through camp in the floodwaters to get to dry ground – an incredible sight! A temporary electric fence has been built to house them at night on higher ground, until the water subsides in the outer boma.
While all this was going on we had forgotten about Chodoba & Chama. Once we could restore communications we checked their location from Chodoba’s satellite collar and found that they had moved 12kms away from camp and were enjoying a waterfront interlude at Lake Itezhi Tezhi! But because of the flooding we could not get a team to get a visual on them for 2 days. Finally after a nervous 48hr period and countless downloads of Chodoba’s position, the pair were sighted safe “n” sound eating grass on the lake foreshore. Their return to the Release Facility is now blocked by floodwaters until the river level subsides, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on these two explorers until then. This is another milestone for Chodoba who has never explored more than 3 km away from the Release Facility. The combined effects of being emboldened by having his long-time friend Chamilandu by his side and being forced away by floodwaters has taken them
on a great adventure!

From : The Livingstone Weekly

By : Gill Staden

5 February 2015