There are more than 85 endangered animal species in Zambia, including the African Elephant, the White Rhinoceros, and the African Lion. Many of these animals have been killed illegally by hunters. But thankfully, there are several groups in Zambia who are working hard to protect these endangered creatures from extinction.
One of these groups is the Lilayi Elephant Nursery. African Elephants are often killed for their ivory tusks. When a mother elephant is killed, her baby cannot survive on its own. The Lilayi Elephant Nursery rescues these baby elephants from the wild, and feeds, cares for, and protects these young calves. Once the baby elephants no longer need to be bottle-fed, they are released into a protected park. As they grow, the young elephants will imitate other members of the elephant herd to learn important survival skills.
The workers at Lilayi also teach the babies how to use their trunks to feed and defend themselves. Did you know that an elephant’s trunk has more than 100,000 muscles? It must take a lot of practice to learn how to use all of those muscles!
Another group working to protect endangered animals is Lion Encounter. Nearly 80-90% of all African lions have been killed since the 1970s. Lion Encounter is trying to repopulate the lion species, which means they are trying to increase the number of lions in the wild.
Lion cubs are born at breeding centers and then sent to Lion Encounter to learn how to hunt, find protection, and live among a pride (a group of lions). Humans caretakers act like lion mothers and walk the lion cubs through their natural environment. I admit, my heart was pounding as I began my walk with the King of Beasts. But once my heart settled down, I was able to enjoy my time walking with these fascinating creatures.
Lions and elephants may be endangered, but thanks to conservation efforts like those at Lion Encounter and the Lilayi Elephant Nursery, there is still hope for a future with these amazing animals.