Wild At Life Project

The Livingstone Elephant Herd

Activity status: Ongoing
Area of Activity: Zambia

Elephants are the world’s largest land animals. Male African elephants, specifically, are the biggest, weighing up to 6 tonnes. Habitats of African elephants have declined by over 50% since 1979. Add in growing human-wildlife conflict and a surge in ivory poaching in recent years, it’s easy to see why elephants are under threat.

With an estimated 415.000 elephants left on the continent, they are regarded as vulnerable, although certain species are being poached towards extinction. Adult elephants have only one predator – humans. We are directly (e.g. shooting, spearing, snaring, poisoning) and indirectly (e.g. destroying habitat, blocking migrations routes and depleting water sources) responsible for the declining numbers.

The survival and well-being of elephants are threatened by:

  • Escalating poaching and illegal killing, for the commercial trade of ivory and meat
  • Increasing loss of natural habitats
  • Rising conflict with humans over resources

With our local partners on the ground, Wild at Life e.V. is running an elephant sanctuary in Zambia. These elephants free roam, crossing the river and sometimes even reaching Zimbabwe, before returning back to eat and rest in the sanctuary. The herd has all the care, food, and veterinarian assistance they need and each of them is cared for by a personal caregiver.

Introduction of the Livingstone herd:

BOP

The oldest member of the herd, we estimate Bop’s age to be approximately 70 years old (as of 2023). Bop was rescued in Mana Pools during the intense culling in the 1960s and subsequently raised by local farmers in Chiredzi. Little did they know how large he would grow! Bop and Danny were brought to Victoria Falls together and moved to Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Livingstone in 2002. Former patriarch of the herd, Bop has sired three calves – Nandi, Muyuni and Nyami and lives out his days in and around the National Park and islands. Bop’s huge tusks began cracking due to old age. The tusks have been shortened by the vet in order to prevent further breakage and discomfort.

DANNY

Approximately 60 years old (as of 2023), Danny is the dominant bull of the herd and whilst extremely gentle in nature, he keeps the younger bulls in check. Danny was rescued with Bop and they stick together all the time in the bush. He recently survived a crocodile bite to his truck while drinking along the Zambezi River, the scar can be seen on his trunk. Danny carries a magnificent set of ivory.

MADINDA

We call Madinda ‘The Dancing Elephant’ – this 43 years old (as of 2023) bull is extremely intelligent and full of character. Madinda was found alone under predator attack as he had lost his herd in the long search for food and water during a severe drought in the Gonarezhou National Park during the 1980s. At the time of the rescue, Madinda had lost half his tail and ear to predators.

MASHUMBI

Mashumbi is the matriarch of the herd at an estimated age of 48 years old (as of 2023). Also a casualty of drought, she quickly gained respect as the leader once the core group of elephants came together. Mashumbi once left with a herd of 14 wild bachelor elephants to the South Kafue National Park and returned 10 months later pregnant. Mashumbi leads the herd in their daily routine of bathing in the Zambezi, foraging in the bush or dozing in the shade of nearby Acacia trees. Mashumbi has had two calves – Chavaruka (sired by wild elephant, now deceased) and Muyuni.

LEWA

The glamour cow of the herd, this very social 45-year-old female will hum when she is happy. Found and raised with Marula, the two were inseparable until Lewa had her first calf (Nandi). In 2014, Lewa gave birth to her second calf, Nyami.

NANDI

Daughter of Lewa – this female calf developed tusks at the age of three. Although mother Lewa is tusk-less, father Bop has huge tusks – some African elephants will never grow tusks due to genetics. Now at 15 years old (as of 2023), we have great expectations of Nandi. Named after Shaka Zulu’s mother who became the Great Chief when her son became King, Nandi the elephant first showed signs of great leadership when she brought back an orphaned baby elephant from the Zambezi Islands one day. After unsuccessful efforts to locate the orphan’s herd, this herd rallied around Nandi’s new-found baby who was named ‘Sekuti’ after the island he was found on.

SEKUTI

On 31st January 2010, the elephants returned from feeding on Zambezi Island with a 1-year-old orphaned calf, protected by Nandi. His own herd was never located and the herd welcomed the baby who settled well.

MUYUNI

A mischievous bull born on 29th December 2013 to matriarch Mashumbi, Muyuni is a playful little elephant and spent his younger years trumpeting and crashing through the bush, occasionally stopping to play in the mud. The older elephants would always reprimand him. At 7 years old (as of 2023), Muyuni continues to grow tall and already has tusks.

NYAMI

The youngest member of the herd, Nyami was born on 22nd September 2014. This little lady has a sense of humour. We quickly learnt not to stand behind her as she has a fairly accurate back kick. She is often seen in the mud rough-housing with best friend Muyuni. Nyami is carefully looked after by mother Lewa, sister Nandi, and auntie Mashumbi.

Due to the safe-distancing measures put in place amid the COVID pandemic, our sanctuary had to remain close to visitors. This heavily impacted us financially but thanks to our supporters and their generous donations, we managed to maintain the headcount of all our staff and elephant caregivers, without cutting cost on the care for the elephants as well as Sox.

Sox the Hippo

Named after his adorable and unique pink feet, Sox is a wild hippo that the Wild at Life e.V. team spotted one day hanging out with the Livingstone herd. No other hippos were with him and the elephants welcomed him. With them spending their days eating and sleeping together, we believe Sox has been accepted as part of the herd and sees himself as an elephant too.

Sox (middle right) with the herd
Sox in the river with a young elephant
Sox with an elephant

Check out this video of the herd!

Did you know

that an adult African elephant eats around 150kg of food daily? Unsurprisingly, the cost to care for the Livingstone Herd is our highest monthly expenditure. If it is within your means, consider being their adopter!

Thank you for your never-ending support!

Update: November 11, 2023

Beautiful updates of the Livingstone Herd!

This project is carried out in the following activity areas
Endangered species rescue, conservation & anti-poaching

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