The Aspinall Foundation, a world leading conservation charity, together with the Eastern Cape’s Department of Economic Development, Mount Camdeboo Private Reserve, Wild911 and a task team of elephant and translocation experts, are translocating a bull elephant that had been marked for death.
The bull, weighing approximately five tonnes, had been pushed out of a herd on his home reserve in the Eastern Cape and was reported by neighbouring farm owners to be wandering across roads and farmland, in search of food and water.
Alerted to the elephant’s plight, Dereck Milburn, The Aspinall Foundation’s Southern Africa Project Director, put together a task team of experts comprising, Dr. William Fowlds - a respected wildlife veterinarian; Brett Mitchell - an elephant expert of the Elephant Reintegration Trust; Peter Chadwick – a specialist in protected areas and conservation and Iain Buchanan of Mount Camdeboo Private Reserve, in order to provide government officials with an alternative solution to shooting the elephant.
Within 30 hours, the decision to shoot the animal was overturned and The Eastern Cape’s Department of Economic Development & Environmental Affairs issued a relocation permit, whilst the necessary funds to support the translocation were put in place by Chris Holcroft #Wild911 and Iain Buchanan.
Damian Aspinall, Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation commented: ‘This is an incredible example of conservation in action and a move The Aspinall Foundation is proud to support. The rapid response of this task team just goes to show what we can do, when we all work together. We know that there are risks involved but we are prepared to take those risks, to save the lives of animals around the world.’
Following the rapid actions of the task force, the 20 year old bull elephant was monitored by the teams before being aerially darted via helicopter early this morning. Once the elephant was safely sedated, the team reacted swiftly to move him in to his travel crate and on to the transport vehicle, to embark on the 120 kilometre journey to the safety of Mount Camdeboo Private Reserve.
Dereck Milburn said: ‘During the translocation and on arrival at Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve, a helicopter and vet team will be on standby for a period of up to 24 hours. Despite all our planning, this is an extremely complex operation with multiple risks still posing a threat to the elephant’s survival.’
Once settled in his new home, the bull will join a small breeding herd of elephants that were released on to the Mount Camdeboo Private Reserve earlier this year. Under the watchful eyes monitors from Elephants, Rhino & People team (ERP), the herd will be continuously monitored, whilst a tracking collar fitted to the bull will keep the team updated on the herd’s movements.
Dereck added: ‘The dedication from all parties has been absolutely incredible. The teams have gone beyond the call of duty to secure the life of this elephant. These synergistic efforts, unparalleled teamwork and unrelenting commitment to ensure the safety of the elephant have undoubtedly demonstrated that this approach can solve conservation challenges, such as saving the life of an elephant. It should be regarded as a benchmark as to how future complex conservation operations could be handled.’