As she strides purposefully through an African forest in leopard-print Wellingtons, Essex girl Rachael Murton is pursued by six excitable elephants.
Together, the lumbering animals weigh a combined 500 stone, but Chelmsford-born Rachael retains her composure.
For these young orphaned elephants, this devoted young British woman is their surrogate mum, and each wants to be first for a cuddle.
Tenderly, these colossal beasts — years from being fully grown — raise their trunks to 33-year-old Rachael’s face, seeming to wrap her in an embrace.
A biology graduate who left the UK after university, Rachael has dedicated her life to saving baby elephants left without their real mums by poachers killing indiscriminately for ivory and bush-meat in Zambia.
Not only does she nurse the severely traumatised animals back to health, she is also on 24-hour call to mount dangerous rescue operations to bring abandoned elephants to safety.
‘I’ve always loved animals and I left my white stilettos in Essex,’ jokes Rachael, who came to Zambia in 2008 after working on animal conservation projects around the world.
She manages the Lilayi Elephant Nursery, the only orphanage of its kind in southern Africa, for anti-poaching organisation Game Rangers International, which has links to the International Fund For Animal Welfare.
The orphanage, near the capital Lusaka, performs a vital role in a country where ivory poachers who sell tusks to dealers for the Far East market are unlikely to be arrested.
When adult females are killed for their tusks, their babies quickly become emaciated because they need maternal milk to grow until the age of two or three… see more
source: Dailymail UK