There has been a tremendous amount of progress in a short period of time. If you were following the plight of elephants in Zimbabwe back in July 2015, for example, you would have learned of a controversial private sector shipment of 24 orphan baby elephants to commercial entities in China. The original group of 27 had been culled to 24, as three of the group had suffered injuries and were thus not suitable for transport. Working quietly but effectively behind the scenes, ZEN, with support from MUTAPA, succeeded in saving these three orphans, who would otherwise have been put to death.

Subsequently, in December 2015, ZEN hosted the President of China with the goal of educating millions of Chinese on the plight of elephants in Africa and the need to protect this important species. China represents one of the primary sources of demand for ivory and any solution to the poaching problem needs to work to educate the Chinese population. This visit reached hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens with a powerful conservation message, and we hope to continue this work in the future.

Here are the key milestones occurring over the course of the past two years:

2/14 Arrival of first orphaned baby elephant, “Moyo”, rescued from Kariba.

9/14 Attempted rescue of baby “Benji” from Beit Bridge ends sadly, as Benji dies on the plane while enroute back to ZEN.

12/14 Mutapa rescued from deepwater trough, where he had been trapped for over 12 hours.

1/15 We make our first visit to ZEN, where we are introduced to Mutapa, who is clearly struggling. Mutapa dies shortly thereafter from acidosis and skin infections despite receiving four weeks of intensive life-saving care and love.

4/15 We return to the nursery and are interviewed by a BBC documentary crew filming a special on the life-saving work taking place there for British public television.

6/15 New elephant boma built in order to create larger space for the care and management of the elephants.

7/15 Three young elephants rescued from Hwange – Annabelle, Matabele and Kukurakura. The babies were originally slated for shipment to China but, following critical negotiations with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management, are instead brought to ZEN.

9/15 Baby number five, Sizi, is rescued from Beit Bridge.

11/15 Partnership is formed with Impisi Conservation Trust for the sustainable management of Nyatana Wilderness Area, where ZEN orphans will eventually be released into the wild. Support is provided for team of 11 anti-poaching scouts.

12/15 Visit by Chinese President Xi and his wife along with large Chinese delegation marks a great achievement in efforts to raise awareness within China as to the plight of the elephants.

2/16: BBC UK airs documentary segment about ZEN called “Nature’s Miracle Orphans”