Two 14-year-old baby elephants were recently moved to the Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa in the Western Cape to increase herd size and strengthen their conservation programs.
Searl Derman, the owner of Aquila Private Game Reserve, said the reserve is the first Western Cape private game reserve in 270 years to reintroduce the Big 5 to the Cape after colony hunters s.h.o.t and ki.l.led most of these species are found in the Western Cape.
He added that the translocating of the elephants was a mammoth task.
“No expense was spared to ensure a team of researchers, vets and conservation staff kept a keen eye on the process while monitoring the behaviour.
“One of the new elephants introduced at Aquila was orphaned and rehabilitated before being reintroduced to the wild. Being born in cap.ti.vity, the other elephant offers the conservation teams a great research opportunity, observing it now, roaming free, alongside the other Big 5 and wildlife on the reserve,” he said.
Although the release and introduction were considered a success, it did not occur completely without incident. He said one elephant had a standoff with a rhino. “After a big display of mock charging, trumpeting and ear flapping, both parties walked away uninjured and happy,” said Derman.
The elephants spent the first day exploring their new home and interacting curiously with other wildlife. Derman said that the encounter between the sanctuary’s animals and one of the Aquila elephants “was a beautiful moment when they humbly greeted each other and immediately bonded”.
The elephants’ anxiety and s.tr.e.ss levels are minimal, and “their trunk attitude and body postures satisfying”.
“Moving and reintroducing wildlife is always r.isky, and I would like to thank the teams for overseeing the translocation of these beautiful animals. It is extremely gratifying to witness this moment, and we are proud to continue our wildlife conservation work while expanding our wildlife populations,” Derman added.
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