The Inspiring Story of Two Baby Elephants Rescued and Nursed Back to Health in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, two baby elephants were found in dire situations, alone and injured. Kadiki, only one day old at the time, had been attacked by a lion, sustaining severe injuries to her trunk and tail.

Bumi, a one-month-old calf, was discovered stuck among rocks, suffering from severe sunburn. The future seemed uncertain for these two orphaned elephants.

Thankfully, Roxy Danckwerts, founder of the Wild Is Life charity and the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery (ZEN), intervened to save their lives.

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One-month-old Bumi had somehow got stuck among rocks and suffered severe sunburn before he was taken in by veteran animal rescuer Roxy Danckwerts, 53. Pictured: Bumi on board a rescue plane.  Source: Daily Mail
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Labor of love: Ms. Danckwerts tends stricken Kadiki. Kadiki had been attacked by a lion when only a day old, suffering deep claw wounds to her trunk and terrible damage to her tail. Source: Daily Mail

ZEN, the country’s only baby elephant sanctuary, works in partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned elephants.

Under the dedicated care of Danckwerts and her team, Kadiki and Bumi has made remarkable recoveries.

Kadiki underwent surgery and treatment for her injuries, and she is now well enough to walk around at ten days old. Bumi has transformed, developing a playful personality and enjoying his time playing with tires at the nursery.

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On the mend: A helper holds the drip as Kadiki, whose name means ‘the little one’ in the local Shona language, takes a stroll. Source: Daily Mail
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He has developed a mischievous personality and loves playing with tyres. Source: Daily Mail
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Staff at the nursery say Bumi is now ‘almost unrecognizable’ from his arrival. Source: Daily Mail

The reasons for the baby elephants’ separation from their mothers remain unclear. The IFAW reports that drought, poaching, accidents, and predator attacks are common causes of such unfortunate events.

A pioneering collaboration between Wild is Life-ZEN and IFAW offers these rescued elephants a chance at a new life in the wild.

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Ms. Danckwerts (pictured with Kadiki), who has rescued more than 20 elephants in the past five years, said: ‘Elephants are highly intelligent, with physical and emotional needs unparalleled in other mammals.’ Source: Daily Mail

They will be given the opportunity to safely join other herds in a vast forest reserve, protected from poaching and hunting.


Nine of the original sanctuary residents have already begun their journey to rewilding, having been transported to the 86,000-acre Panda-Masuie Forest Reserve near Victoria Falls.

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It is not known what happened to their mothers. As well as drought, calves can end up alone or injured due to poaching, falling into ditches, getting separated from herds, or predator attacks, the IFAW says. Pictured: Kadiki (left) and Bumi (right). Source: Daily Mail
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Since the calves were airlifted to the International Fund for Animal Welfare-supported nursery near Harare, Ms. Danckwerts and her team have stayed by their side. Pictured: Bumi. Source: Daily Mail

Roxy Danckwerts, who has rescued over 20 elephants in the past five years, said, “Working with IFAW, we are making this happen, and I’m happy we can together create a legacy of long-term protection.” The ultimate goal is for Kadiki and Bumi to be introduced to the Panda-Masuie reserve and integrated into wild herds after two years under the care of the sanctuary.

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