Makwa and Kennedy

In the early months of  2010 Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) entered into an arrangement with an international zoo whereby ZPWMA would provide two animals of a variety of species in exchange for funds which would assist with various conservation requirements in Hwange Park. Over the course of the next few months ZPWMA captured a wide variety of animals, however in June of 2010 this business arrangement fell through and the Director General of ZPWMA requested that the Tikki Hywood Trust assist with the release and rehabilitation of many of the animals concerned. Lisa Hywood of THT requested the assistance of both  ZNSPCA and the Vic Falls Wildlife Trust to assist with this exercise, which was subsequently successfully carried out. The VFWT was also requested to take temporary custodianship of the two young elephant "Makwa" and "Kennedy", with a view to integrating  them socially with other domesticated elephants within the Sanctuary area until such time as they are of sufficient age to allow release back into Hwange Park .

         

It was on a very brisk morning on July 12th, 2010 that we gathered our team in Hwange National Park, Umtshibi (the base for the Hwange Capture Unit), and walked both Makwa and Kennedy out of their pens to the waiting wildlife translocation truck that would translocate them to their new home in Victoria Falls. Everything went smoothly loading both Makwa and Kennedy, and they were relaxed for the three hour journey to Victoria Falls. The physical condition of both animals was very good, and for this special thanks should be given to Varden Safaris, a local horseback safari operator based in the area, for taking such good care of these two elephants, in conjunction with ZPWMA, during their stay at Umtshibi. The ZPWMA staff together with the VFWT team, worked very well together to get the elephant loaded and transported to Victoria Falls, and we give thanks to ZPWMA for their support and assistance.

Upon arrival at the Sanctuary just outside of Victoria Falls, both Makwa and Kennedy were fully awake and alert. The domesticated elephants on the property could be heard trumpeting a greeting to the new arrivals before the youngsters even walked off of the truck, with Makwa (a female of about 4 years) walked off the truck and down the ramp first. She was very curious but cautious of the new elephants. We quickly settled her into her new stable so she could eat and acclimatize after the journey. Kennedy (a young male of about 5 years) was then released from the translocation vehicle, and allowed to meet the resident herd. Although a little slower than Makwa to come off the truck, he did walk out and greet the herd of elephant waiting to meet him.The elephants escorted him to his new stable next to Makwa where he too, was put in to rest and eat.

    

The following day both Makwa and Kennedy joined up with the rest of the domesticated elephant herd and went into the bush to feed. It is still too early to see which animals they will imprint with for their eventual release back into the wild, however we are monitoring their interactions carefully to see how they are getting along with each of the other elephant.

      

The Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust have undertaken never to allow Makwa and Kennedy to be used for commercial activities, and the sole purpose of their time with the domesticated herd is to allow these youngsters the opportunity of social integration into a prospective cohesive herd unit that will ultimately be released back into Hwange National Park. This exercise is hugely expensive, if you would like to assist the Vic Falls Wildlife Trust with donations to support the rehabilitation and release of Makwa and Kennedy please Click here to Donate and under comments please put "Makwa and Kennedy" for those funds to go directly towards this project.