YARMOUTH PORT, Mass., Nov. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Game Rangers International (GRI) and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) welcomes the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as a new partner of the Elephant Orphanage Project in Zambia today. The partnership between the three organizations strengthens elephant rescue and conservation efforts in the country.
The Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) is a project of Game Rangers International, established by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, in close collaboration with the Zambia Wildlife Authority. The EOP's mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned elephants back into the wild. It offers sanctuary for defenseless abandoned elephant calves, often the tragic victims of poaching and human conflict.
Officially inaugurated by the Vice President of Zambia, Dr Guy Scott on the 29th September 2012, the EOP Lilayi Elephant Nursery in the outskirts of Lusaka is the first rehabilitation center of its kind in the region of Southern Africa.
"African elephants are being subjected to a relentless surge in poaching," said Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO. "We are proud to be a partner of the Elephant Orphanage Project in Zambia that saves the lives of innocent elephant calves. Now more than ever, we must work together to ensure their survival."
"The Elephant Orphanage Project is a vital component of GRI's mission to address the major conservation issues faced by Zambia" said Sport Beattie, CEO of GRI. "Not only does it help return the tragically orphaned elephant calves back to the wild spaces where they belong but it also helps raise much needed public attention on the pressures that Africa's elephants and protected areas are facing. With this new and very welcome support from IFAW we can continue our efforts to tackle these complex problems.
"The national parks in Zambia are some of the last unspoiled wildernesses in Africa" said Sally Case, DSWF CEO. "We have been working closely with GRI for some time to ensure Zambia's elephant population is protected and has the freedom and safety to roam in the wild, and we are thrilled to have IFAW join this vitally important initiative."
Under the age of two, young elephants are incredibly vulnerable and dependent. Many orphan elephants do not survive without intricate care and nutrient rich milk from their mothers. At the EOP Lilayi Elephant Nursery these fragile elephants are cared for around the clock. A team of locally employed, highly trained keepers care for them and watch over them constantly – whether out during their daily walks, or sitting close by their stables at night. Together with their new siblings and keepers, these young elephants learn to overcome the tragic loss of their natal family, as they browse, play and bath together in a natural environment.
After rehabilitation at the Nursery, the elephants are transported to Kafue National Park where they are gradually release back to the wild. Presently, there are six elephants at the EOP Lilayi Elephant Nursery and an additional seven elephants at the release location.
More than a decade ago, IFAW played a pivotal role in the creation of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) in Assam, India that saw the first ever release of hand-raised Asian elephants back to the wild. IFAW's Wildlife Rescue Program manages rescue and rehabilitation projects for injured, displaced and orphaned wildlife in China, India, and Russia and supports projects in nine countries.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About GRI (Game Rangers International)
Game Rangers International was founded in 2008 with the specific aim of assisting the communities living around the Kafue National Park to better manage the natural resources of the area through support to wildlife management and protection and community outreach and education.
With a focus on the flagship African Elephant species, GRI currently implements a number projects that together take a holistic approach to the problems of conservation and development, rooted in the belief that the key to sustainable, long term utilisation of Zambia's natural wealth is best achieved by ensuring the full participation of its citizens in managing these vital, internationally important ecosystems. For more information, visit www.gamerangersinternational.org.
About DSWF (the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation)
DSWF supports anti-poaching and conservation projects throughout Africa and Asia making a real difference to the survival of critically endangered mammals. It is an adaptable and flexible, non-bureaucratic organisation responding promptly to conservation threats by supporting trusted, reputable individuals and organisations operating in the field. Lean on administration but generous on funding, DSWF supports a range of innovative, vital and far-reaching projects throughout Africa and Asia, achieving real results for wildlife survival. Projects include sending undercover agents into the field to investigate illegal wildlife crime, training and supplying anti-poaching patrols, establishing nature reserves and other protected areas, educating wildlife consumers about the plight of the animals they 'use' and teaching young people about endangered wildlife through art and school projects.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare