It has certainly been a busy month for elephants!
Due a massive hail storm earlier this year together with the the persisting droughts the elephants are traveling further to look for better food and water resources. Unfortunately outside of the borders of our reserve elephants are not safe. As they travelled west from Kruger National Park towards the western boundary fence of the Greater Kruger Park, they found a place to break through the fence onto neighboring farm lands. The two elephants ended up on a private nature reserve close to the Drakensberg mountains. Assessing the situation with this reserve we decided to see if they would integrate and find their place at their new found home. Unfortunately they were unable to settle peacefully with the local elephant herds and became restless and distressed. This caused for trouble with the neighboring farmlands. They issued for shooting permits to put the two elephants down. We would not allow that to happen so we had to make a decision as fast as possible. We decided for a risky and expensive operation to move the elephants back to their original home, in Kruger National Park. This is a complex operation which involves a lot of people from different professions. So after organising wildlife vet team, wildlife transportation team, flying team, state official, relocation team, trackers and more, we also had to apply for a permit to relocate our animals. After a couple of weeks we had the premit in our hands! The vets darted the first animal, waited for the medication to take effect and the capture and relocation team then loaded the 5 tons heavy pachyderm onto the truck with a crane. There was no room for mistakes. After the elephant was safely secured on the truck the journey to Balule began. We are sure that this convoy attracted a lot of interesting looks on the road! The release of the elephant went perfect and according to plan. After he found his bearing he slowly started moving back into the reserve. A couple of days later the same operation was conducted to get the second elephant back. And luckily this operation went perfectly smooth as well! We hope both elephants will find a better place to live than in neighboring farm lands!
After this whole ordeal we hoped that this was something we didn’t have to do more often. Then we got a phone call….another elephant broke out through the farm lands onto the R40 looking for a new area to thrive. Luckily he was still close by so we tried to heard him back into the reserve. As we don’t want to stress a big bull elephant out too much we wanted to do this as careful as possible. After three attempts we finally got him back in! The only thing he took down with him was 300 meters of fence…But are main concern was the elephants safety and we were glad he quickly moved away from the border and back into the reserve. Now we just had long days ahead of us fixing the fence! As we can note permit any animals to escape again due to a broken fence! Those elephants surely know how to keep you on your toes at all times…
It seem to be stressful times for elephants at the moment, and sometimes that means that elephants clash with each other. With great sadness we heard that one of our most well-known elephant, Shoshangane was found dead in the reserve. A couple of weeks earlier whilst Shoshangane was in musth (the time that they are trying to find a mate and testosterone is extremely high), he fought with another bull. This is not uncommon, but little did we know that Shoshangane got hurt worse from the fight than we thought and succumb to his injuries. The whole reserve and all visitors who have ever met Shosh were heartbroken by the news. He was a truly gentle giant and like to visit us regularly. As he would feed calmly a couple of meters away from us we truly felt connected with him. His massive stature and impressive tusks were a definite eye catcher and his relaxed nature was something that anyone that has ever had the chance to meet him will never forget. One special elephant that we will never forget! Rest in peace our pachyderm friend!
Sometimes we have to let old friends go, but will be given new friends to add to our family. As the first real Black Mamba Bush Baby baby was born! Our Black Mamba Tangalani did not expect this early surprise as she was calculated to be due in April. After her routine patrol on a Friday night all the Black Mambas of the Jejane team arrived back at the airplane hangar where they stay. At 3 o’clock we got a phone call that she wasn’t feeling too well. This was of course not taken lightly considering her pregnancy. Her Black Mamba supervisor Barrie quickly came to pick her up to rush her to the hospital. Unfortunately along the way they got a puncture and Barrie had to be as fast as he could to change the wheel. As Tangalani laid down next to the road in the bush, there was a sound…not the sound of an animal but of a baby crying! And all of a sudden Tangalani was the proud mother of a baby boy! Barrie immediately phoned an ambulance and made sure mother and baby were safe and comfortable. At the hospital both mother and child were checked up and were both healthy and happy! The next day the whole Black Mamba team welcomed the new member to the family! An amazing story of the wild world of the bush! That is definitely a story he can tell his classmates later how he was born in the wild with a though mother like that! We wish Tangalani and her new baby boy all the best!!
The Olifants West team also has a new member, William Hodges, the new Black Mamba supervisor and Assistant Warden. He will work with the Mambas in Olifants West whilst doing the important job of maintaining the reserve! Welcome to the team William!
We also like to remember another dear friend of ours. Our close friend and respected colleague Jason, whom lost his life las year February. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t think of him. The whole team and The Black Mambas came together to pay our respect and love in his honor. We can’t believe it has already been a year since we lost you and we miss you every day.
We salute you!