Moving Time for this Young Elephant
Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is a growing concern in Zambia, negatively effecting both humans and elephants. What is HEC? It’s scenarios like this: a young bull elephant is constantly raiding crops farmed by locals in the area. These people rely on those crops for their livelihood and survival (subsistence farming is not uncommon in many parts of Africa). So when an elephant finds an easy meal on crops, many times the locals will fight back, hurting or even killing, the elephant. And with the current rates that ivory is fetching through the illegal ivory trade, these locals have even more incentive. So when our friends at GRI heard about an adult male elephant from the Nega Nega area of Mazabuka District raiding the crops of local farmers, they decided to step in and help relocate this bull for his own safety and for the well-being of the community. The elephant was moved to Kafue National Park where he will be kept safe under the watchful eye of park rangers.
So how does one move a 12,000lbs (5455kg) bull elephant? The operation began at 0630am on Saturday morning May 10th. The elephant was seen and darted at 0815am from a helicopter. Then the ground team, supervised by Dr. Ian Parsons and the ZAWA vet Dr. David Squarre, sedated the animal and lifted him using a crane, onto the back of a transporter truck. There he was resuscitated before being released in the park.
The best part? Many members of the affected communities turned out to witness the relocation and were happy that the animal was moving to a new home rather than being shot. This is the sort of harmonious future we envision for both humans and elephants.
Thanks to GRI for sharing their story with us. They would like to thank the following organizations and individuals who made this operation possible:
- International Fund for Animal Welfare (principal donor)
- Zambia Wildlife Authority
- African Wildlife Management and Conservation
- Matobo Veterinary Centre
- Zambia Sugar for their logistical support
- Bailey’s Roofing for their support with the crane truck
- Mukambi Safari Lodge for their provision of accommodation and food for the team
- Mr Nick Patterson for providing logistical support
- Mr Guy Robinson and members of the Mazabuka Farming Community (the Whitfield, Roberts, Coventry, Bhagoo and Quenet families especially)
- The communities and peoples of Nega Nega and Mazabuka District