Congratulations Cosmas

Congratulations Cosmas – Finalist in Major Conservation Award

Game Rangers International is very proud to announce that Cosmas Mumba, Project Manager for GRI – Zambia Primate Project (ZPP), has been named as one of three finalists for the prestigious Tusk Conservation Award, supported by HRH Prince William. Cosmas is the first Zambian conservationist ever to be short-listed for this award.

GRI took over the management of ZPP in May 2015. Under Cosmas’s stewardship, ZPP has developed in to a world-class conservation success story with over 500 yellow baboons and vervet monkeys have been successfully rehabilitated, having been rescued from the most harrowing conditions and given a second chance at life back in the wild.

Dr.Cheryl Mvula, ZPP Senior Technical Advisor, who has worked closely with Cosmas for the last decade, was clearly elated, saying; “I never fail to be impressed by Cosmas’s passion and commitment to wildlife conservation in Zambia, particularly his work with primates. Confiscating illegally held primates and monitoring them once released on foot in the bush has placed him in some very dangerous situations, but his gentle, yet steady determination, to champion the cause of primates in Zambia has never wavered.

“I feel privileged to work with such a humble, unsung hero of the conservation world – singlehandedly saving the lives of hundreds of primates. Being recognised for his dedication through a Tusk Award would be so special for him and much deserved.”

Tusk award 2Cosmas was born in Petuake in a rural family who respect nature and love wildlife. In 2002 he was asked to help release rescued primates back into the wild as part of the pioneering welfare project ZPP, established with critical and ongoing support from the Born Free Foundation in the UK.

He has worked for ZPP since leaving school, working his way up through the ranks to his current position of Project Manager having started with the project as a casual labourer and cook.

Since then, ZPP has grown to become one of Africa’s most established and successful primate release programmes. Its mission is to rescue and rehabilitate injured, orphaned and illegally held vervet monkeys and yellow baboons for release back to the wild in Zambia. Primate survival rate six months post release currently averages a remarkable 95%.

The world-renowned Tusk Conservation Awards, developed by Tusk Trust, celebrate excellence in conservation and highlight inspirational conservation work in Africa – ranging from the protection of endangered species and threatened habitats, to the promotion of environmental education and the development of community driven conservation. The awards are sponsored by Investec and Land Rover.

Cosmas will attend the Tusk Conservation Awards ceremony at Claridge’s Hotel, London, on 24th November.

The Suni Memorial Fund

Suni was not only orphaned from her mother when she was just eight months old, but also critically handicapped in an axe attack, which led her to eventual demise.

In her memory Game Rangers International have established the Suni Memorial Fund to support the ongoing and essential protection of Zambia’s elephants to prevent the same fate falling upon other elephants like Suni.

Suni holds a special place in the hearts of many. Her story is a poignant reminder of the harsh reality facing Zambia’s elephants. Not only was Suni robbed of her family as a young calf but she was also deprived of a future when she was so brutally attacked. We must ensure the same fate does not fall upon others like Suni by providing wild elephants with adequate protection!

GRI works closely with the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) to protect Kafue National Park through law enforcement, research, anti-trafficking, community outreach and education so that Zambia’s elephants and other wildlife can live secure from poaching and other threats.

We need your help! Please contribute to this vital work and ensure Suni’s legacy lives on.


A tragic day for the GRI-Elephant Orphanage Project

It is with a heavy heart that GRI has to report that Suni, the orphaned elephant who was brutally disabled in an attack as a young calf, was put to sleep earlier today after an intense three year battle for her recovery.

In April 2012 Suni was found by the roadside, dragging herself along on her front two legs after an axe attack to her spine had rendered her paralysed in the back half of her body. With support from the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) she was transferred to the Lilayi Elephant Nursery (LEN) for veterinary care and in the hope that given intense nursing and support she might recover the full use of her back legs. Within a few months Suni showed significant improvement in mobility and wellbeing although she lacked sensation in the back right leg and foot and could not walk properly. At the GRI-Elephant Orphanage Project Suni was given the best care possible over the past three years, which included the necessary physical support for her disabled limb, a huge variety of supportive therapies, as well as the emotional support from her devoted keepers and surrogate elephant herd. With thanks to highly specialised supportive boots Suni was able to live a mostly ‘normal’ life within the orphan herd, socialising with the other elephants, joining the herd on daily walks and engaging in playful mud-bathing.

Supporting Suni was an incredible challenge, which required intense medical support every day of her life. Our intention was that if we could support her to walk without damage or pain that over time sensation would return to the limb enabling her to place her foot correctly. Nearly three years after surgery we saw no significant improvement in her ability to use her foot, and thus it was acknowledged that she would never be able to survive independently and without limb support. The lack of sensation resulted in Suni sustaining injury to her limb that she could not feel. As she grew heavier (she weighed 630kg in July) these injuries became more significant and more difficult and dangerous to manage.

from behind with bootThe decision to euthanise Suni has been the most difficult decision ever faced by the GRI-Elephant Orphanage Project. She was an important family member to a special herd of orphaned elephants and became like an adopted child to her keepers. However, Suni’s standard of welfare was always the priority and thus the maintenance of her physical and psychological condition was paramount. If she had been kept alive Suni would have been increasingly physically restricted by her own capabilities and the high level of maintenance and management required. With such a disability in the leg the likelihood for detrimental compensation was very high, but also she would never truly be part of a herd, which is a vital element of elephant society, especially for females. The decision for euthanasia was therefore concluded after all possible options for her continued existence had been explored and with priority placed upon the level of welfare she would have experienced.

Suni holds a special place in the hearts of many. Her story is a poignant reminder of the harsh reality facing Zambia’s elephants. Not only was Suni robbed of her family as a young calf but she was also robbed of a future when she was so brutally attacked. We must ensure the same fate does not fall upon others like Suni by providing wild elephants with adequate protection! Suni’s fighting spirit and legacy will live on through our unwavering efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned elephants back into the wild where they belong.




Elephant Epic 2015

Elephant Epic 2015 – THANK YOU

For the fourth consecutive year, 100 riders took part in the MTB race known as Elephant Epic. 80 km through Zambia’s beautiful, and sometimes rough, nature. The race goes from Lusaka to Kiambi Lodge in the Lower Zambezi and is raising funds for GRI.

GRI would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to everone who helped making Elephant Epic such a success. Thank you to the organisers, the riders, all the volunteers and to our fantastic sponsors. It was a great day and together we raised a significant amount of funds for the protection of Zambia’s wildlife.

To keep updated about Elephant Epic 2016, please visit the website


Operation Alex 2015!

Making a splash for conservation!

In December 2014 Alex van Vlaanderen, a student at the American International School of Lusaka organised a swimathon morning raising funds for the GRI – Elephant Orphanage Project. The event was a huge success and brilliant fundraiser helping communities and conservation in Zambia. Much thanks to Alex and his mother Martina van Vlaanderen.