Zambia’s leading domestic and regional airline, Proflight Zambia, has recently helped rescue an orphaned baby elephant.
Matizye has won the hearts of people throughout the world after embarking on a 577km mercy flight across the country in order to bring her to safety.
The tiny two-month-old elephant was rescued in the South Luangwa National Park, after she was found by local residents in the bush: alone, starving and terrified.
Proflight Zambia flew into action and dispatched a 12-seater C208 Caravan aircraft to collect the elephant and fly her to the safety of the Lilayi Elephant Nursery operated by Game Rangers International in Lusaka.
“Who said elephants can’t fly!” said Captain Emmanuel Nyirenda, who flew the 90-kg elephant to her new home along with colleague Captain David Ndumba.
“We carry thousands of passengers across the country every year to see Zambia’s fantastic wildlife and national parks, so it is only fitting that we put something back by helping little Matizye and ensuring that our natural wonders are cared for,” he added.
Matizye was originally rescued by officers from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) with support from the Conservation South Luangwa charity.
With quick action and veterinary support the calf was taken to the nearby Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust where she was cared for by Game Rangers International’s consultant vet nurse Liz O'Brien who Proflight rapidly flew to the scene.
Upon arrival she found the fragile female orphan in desperate need of help; dehydrated, stressed and showing the initial signs of shock. With some intensive care by Ms O'Brien, Chipembele’s Anna Tolan and her team, the calf was in the best possible hands, to give her a chance for survival.
While the fate of Matizye’s mother is not known, it’s speculated that she may have fallen victim to poachers, who are known to operate in the area.
As Zambia’s leading domestic and regional airline, this is not the first time that Proflight has helped rescue a wild animal. They have repeatedly flown other orphaned elephants in the past and in 2013 Proflight flew Douglina, a 120kg orphaned hippo calf to its new home in South Luangwa.
Douglina, the baby hippo was found orphaned and alone by conservationists in the Lower Zambezi at only 4 months old. Thanks to conservation intervention, she was rescued and nursed back to health by Conservation Lower Zambezi, (CLZ).
To get her safely to her new home in South Luangwa, Douglina had to be flown in a passenger aircraft, as road travel deemed too stressful to her. Weighing 20 stone, she may have taken up a lot of room but she most certainly was the most popular passenger on board.
Douglina, formally known as Douglas, even bagged herself a frequent flyer card with Proflight!
She now resides happily at her new home at Chipembele Wildlife Education Centre on the banks of the South Luangwa River, being cared for by former Thames Valley police officers, Anna and Steve Tolan. The husband and wife team, originally from Oxford, moved to Africa 12 years ago and are the founders of the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust.