Today Network for Animals successfully relocated 14 elephants to their new home in the remote northwest of the Addo National Park in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
There they will now repopulate an area where elephants last lived 150 years ago.
The 14 – five adult cows, four sub-adult bulls and four calves – are part of a family group of 27 elephants who are being moved from their home in Addo’s main area to the Darlington area where they will be far from poaching areas. Poachers target elephants for their tusks which are then carved into trinkets for tourists.
The elephants were darted from helicopters and immediately attended by a crack team of veterinarians and an expert game capture team, who gave them supportive treatment while they remained sedated.
The elephants were then fitted with harnesses. swung on to the back of huge trucks and driven to purpose-built elephant transporters – basically trucks with very strong walls and plenty of ventilation. Mothers and offspring travel together.
Initially, the move was planned to take place over two days, but because of the extreme care that is being taken, it might take twice that time. Because they are often aggressive, older bulls will be the last to be moved.
“This is the culmination of a dream,” said Brian Davies, 83, the founder of Network for Animals, an international charity that paid for the move together with South African businessman Saki Macozoma. “Twenty years ago, when I first met Saki he and I helped finance the expansion of Addo for elephants. Now we are providing them with an entirely new range.”