The Story of Daliso’s Remarkable Survival and Transformation

On 14th June a mother elephant and her calf were being watched near Chikunto Lodge in South Luangwa National Park. It became apparent that she was struggling to walk, and it was observed that she had been shot in the leg. Wildlife Vets from Conservation South Luangwa and DNPW were called to assess the mother elephant for treatment, tragically they confirmed the bullet had penetrated through her leg, breaking bones. She was barely able to move, and the wound was considered fatal. Being a tuskless elephant, the gunshot was likely a result of human-elephant conflict, which is an ongoing challenge in areas where elephants and humans come into contact, especially when they are both competing for the same resources for survival.


The next day vets and wildlife rangers located the two elephants. Both mother and calf were darted with a sedative and fell asleep side by side. Her calf was then carried to a vehicle and transported to Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (CWET) where they have a purpose made boma/enclosure for securing wildlife. The mother elephant was examined thoroughly under sedation, but the prognosis was the same, so she was sadly euthanised. Such a waste of such a majestic life.

At CWET the young calf woke up to find himself in a strange enclosure with no mother. He was naturally distraught, traumatised and screamed with loss. With thanks to Proflight Zambia GRI Keeper Audience had been flown in and was there from the moment this terrified young elephant woke up. Audience provided a consistent and reassuring presence and after some time he stopped screaming and was suckling on his fingers for comfort. It was then only a short transition to offer a milk bottle, and within 24 hours of his rescue he was drinking well and starting to settle. The CWET Keepers called him ‘Daliso’ meaning ‘Blessing’ in the local language of Nyanja.


Within a couple of days of consistent love and care Daliso was comfortable enough to allow his carers inside the enclosure. This was a significant step forward in terms of the trust he was developing with them and also made their handling of him much safer. DNPW vet Dr Lengwe was able to conduct a physical inspection and gave him the ‘all clear’ for travel to the Elephant Nursery. Transporting an elephant across the country is however no small feat and a number of logistical hurdles had to be overcome including organising a crate for safe transport, road transfer, permissions, vets, and a plane that could fit an elephant!

Daliso’s journey to the Nursery went incredibly well! He willingly walked inside the transport crate, encouraged by Audience and a milk bottle. He was given a light standing sedation to help reduce stress and then was driven on the back of a truck for nearly 2 hours to the airport before being lifted and loaded onto a 12-seater aeroplane (with half the seats removed for this special passenger). Once inside the plane it was a 1.45hr flight to the Nursery, and thankfully he was calm throughout the flight – receiving constant reassurance by Audience. He was offloaded onto a vehicle and was driven around to the stable door where he was coaxed out of the crate and into the stable with the other orphans already inside theirs and making a lot of noise and showing interest at the newcomer. Daliso moved easily around his stable exploring the new smells, all the while supported by Audience. He was amazingly calm and had a very settled first night in his new home, drinking milk formula regularly and getting a lot of very well-earned sleep!


While his reasons for being with us are that of tragic, unnecessary loss, we are at least able to give him this second chance for life as he starts his long journey of rehabilitation with the Nursery herd. At just over 1 year old it is likely that he will be within our care for the next 10 years before he is big enough, confident enough and strong enough to defend himself against predators and live back in the wild where he belongs.

Would you like to get involved?

We could not offer him this chance for life without your ongoing support, please help us and join Daliso and his friends on their journey of recovery back to wild.

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