Bull e­lep­hants join the herd at Sa­ma­ra

Graaff-Reinet Advertiser - - Voorblad -

Two bull e­lep­hants, o­ri­gi­nal­ly from P­hin­da P­ri­va­te Ga­me Re­ser­ve in K­wa­zu­lu-na­tal, ha­ve been re­le­a­sed in­to Sa­ma­ra P­ri­va­te Ga­me Re­ser­ve - the first bull e­lep­hants to re­turn to the Plains of Cam­de­boo in 150 y­e­ars.

This fol­lows the success­ful re­le­a­se of six fe­ma­le e­lep­hants in­to the re­ser­ve in Oc­to­ber 2017 - a his­to­ric trans­lo­ca­ti­on.

“We ha­ve been so ple­a­sed with how the foun­der herd of fe­ma­le e­lep­hant has sett­led at Sa­ma­ra," says Sa­rah Tomp­kins of Sa­ma­ra P­ri­va­te Ga­me Re­ser­ve. "We mo­ni­tor their be­ha­vi­our and mo­vements clo­se­ly, with a full-ti­me mo­ni­tor pro­vi­ded by the NGO E­lep­hants, R­hi­nos & Pe­op­le (erp.ngo), who al­so co-fun­ded the trans­lo­ca­ti­on to Sa­ma­ra and the sa­tel­li­te col­lar on the sub-ma­tri­arch."

ERP’S mo­ni­tor at Sa­ma­ra has been trai­ning two in­terns, gra­du­a­tes of the SACT Trac­ker A­ca­de­my, w­ho­se kno­w­led­ge of e­lep­hant e­co­lo­gy and be­ha­vi­our has pro­gres­sed tre­men­dous­ly o­ver the past y­e­ar. “The pre­sen­ce of bulls is li­ke­ly to bring a new dy­n­a­mic to the re­ser­ve, and one which we are ex­ci­ted to wit­ness as we con­ti­nue to re­sto­re this bre­at­hta­king e­cosy­stem,” says Sa­rah.

Cru­ci­al­ly, the trans­lo­ca­ti­on of the two bulls will en­han­ce the so­ci­al struc­tu­re of Sa­ma­ra’s e­lep­hant po­pu­la­ti­on.

“We ha­ve been mo­ni­to­ring the fe­ma­le e­lep­hants at Sa­ma­ra for a y­e­ar now,” says Ida Han­sen, ERP re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ve. “It will be very in­te­res­ting to see how t­hey re­act to the two bulls and how the bulls sett­le in at Sa­ma­ra.”

The kno­w­led­ge that e­lep­hant bulls are highly so­ci­al cre­a­tu­res in­for­med the de­ci­si­on to in­tro­du­ce two bulls so that t­hey could en­joy e­ach ot­her’s com­pa­ny. Sa­ma­ra’s new bulls both o­ri­gi­na­te from P­hin­da, w­he­re t­hey so­meti­mes mo­ved to­get­her. One is ap­prox­i­ma­te­ly 30 y­e­ars old weig­hing 6.3 tons and the ot­her 20 y­e­ars old weig­hing 5.7 tons.

The two bulls ar­ri­ved at Sa­ma­ra af­ter a 24-hour jour­ney, a­bly trans­por­ted by dri­vers Koos and S­ku­ku­za, part of Ke­ster Vic­ke­ry’s te­am at Con­ser­va­ti­on So­lu­ti­ons. The en­ti­re o­pe­ra­ti­on was gui­ded and o­ver­seen by e­lep­hant trans­lo­ca­ti­on ex­perts E­lep­hants, R­hi­nos & Pe­op­le (erp.ngo), who ac­com­pa­nied the e­lep­hants on their jour­ney in a sup­port vehi­cle.

“It was a long dri­ve for the two bulls, but it could not ha­ve go­ne bet­ter. E­very ti­me we chec­ked on them en rou­te, t­hey we­re calm, with Kahle (the ol­der bull) res­ting his trunk on a tusk or on the roof out­si­de the vehi­cle,” says Ida Han­sen of ERP. Kahle trum­pe­ted P­ho­to: Axel Hun­ni­cutt P­ho­to: Ju­li­us Mk­hi­ze his ar­ri­val at Sa­ma­ra and we are all now gues­sing as to how long it will be be­fo­re t­hey link up with the litt­le fa­mi­ly group of fe­ma­les.

Sa­rah, who foun­ded Sa­ma­ra P­ri­va­te Ga­me Re­ser­ve with her hus­band Mark 21 y­e­ars ago, has long held a vi­si­on of re­sto­ring the a­rea to its o­ri­gi­nal s­ta­te.

“Be­fo­re e­ar­ly far­mers and sett­lers e­ra­di­ca­ted the Ka­roo’s wild­li­fe, it bo­as­ted a won­der­ful­ly rich bi­o­di­ver­si­ty, and was ho­me to spe­cies li­ke chee­tah, rhi­no, Ca­pe li­on, s­pring­bok and e­lep­hant,” Sa­rah com­ments.

T­hanks to the Tomp­kins’ de­di­ca­ti­on, and the con­ser­va­ti­on et­hos which re­mains at Sa­ma­ra’s he­art, their vi­si­on is ste­a­di­ly be­co­ming a re­a­li­ty.

“The po­pu­la­ti­on of A­fri­can e­lep­hants is in a s­ta­te of cri­sis, ha­ving de­cli­ned by an a­lar­ming 30% in just 10 y­e­ars.

To sa­fe­guard the fu­tu­re of the spe­cies, the­re is a need to ma­na­ge e­lep­hants as part of me­ta-po­pu­la­ti­ons; a group of spa­ti­al­ly­se­pa­ra­ted po­pu­la­ti­ons be­t­ween which trans­lo­ca­ti­ons can ta­ke pla­ce to en­s­u­re ge­ne­tic di­ver­si­ty and to es­ta­blish foun­der po­pu­la­ti­ons in a­re­as w­he­re e­lep­hants pre­vi­ous­ly occur­red but ha­ve sin­ce been e­ra­di­ca­ted,” no­tes Sa­rah.

She adds that Sa­ma­ra is com­mit­ted to playing its part in the con­ser­va­ti­on of this i­co­nic gent­le gi­ant.

Kahle short­ly af­ter being re­le­a­sed at Sa­ma­ra.

M­vu­la ex­i­ting the truck.

Newspapers in Afrikaans

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.