With the help of our supporters, we have introduced a 27-strong elephant family to an area of Africa where they were hunted to extinction 150 years ago.
Each and every one of you who donated to finance this massive project can give yourself a pat on the back knowing that, thanks to you, elephants will now be able to live and breed securely in the wilderness, far from poaching areas.
The elephant family used to live in the main area of South Africa’s Addo National Park in the Eastern Cape. Addo owns huge land areas, but much of it is inaccessible to elephants because of roads and rail lines. Network for Animals (NFA), working with South African National Parks, selected a suitable family, brought in an expert game capture team and moved them to an idyllic wilderness.
First, the family was herded to a large enclosed area, a process that took weeks. Then when all was ready, rangers anesthetised 14 elephants - five adult cows, four sub-adult bulls and four calves. Veterinarians carefully tended to each sleeping creature, monitoring their health, much like a patient in an operating theatre. Then the elephants were swung on to flat-bed trucks and moved to purpose-built elephant carriers, making sure that mothers and calves were together. Then they were woken up and driven to their new home. The process was repeated over the next two days and all 27 were safely moved. The giant bulls went last because they presented the greatest logistical challenge.
Perhaps the most moving moment of the experience came when the elephants were released. Without hesitation they walked out of the elephant carriers and headed off into the wild, without a backward glance.
The area they now live in is perfect for elephants with plenty of water and grazing and lots of land for them to breed in. Importantly, the area is far from poaching areas. Poachers kill elephants for their ivory tusks, which are carved into trinkets for tourists. The poaching problem is so severe that the United Nations estimates that 100 elephants are slaughtered each day in Africa and without initiatives like this, elephants could be extinct in the wild within decades.
Thanks to NFA’s supporters, who donated funds to make the relocation possible, elephants are now safe to breed and live their lives in peace in the wild.
“Our supporters have enabled us to do something marvelous. We are taking Africa back for elephants,” said Brian Davies, NFA’s founder. “Twenty years ago, I gave Addo money, so the national park could be expanded. Now we have opened up an area of Africa for elephants where few people thought they would ever roam again.
Davies said that NFA’s work at Addo is not yet over. “I have promised support for the National Park to open up more areas for elephants. If our supporters allow us to do so, we will continue to make at least this part of Africa an elephant paradise.”