Roar Africa

Exploring Africa Since 1688

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mac’s Migration

Those of you who found our Green Hunting Elephants (i.e. non-lethal hunting) post on February 5th interesting might also be interested to hear more about one of the stars of this program: Mac the elephant.

I received an email recently from Steve and Michelle Henley with an update on Mac's condition and progress. That email follows below.

Here is some useful jargon before you read it:
KNP = Kruger National Park (in South Africa)
APNR = Associated Private Nature Reserves
Musth = a periodic condition in bull elephants characterized by a thick, tar-like secretion called temporin from the temporal ducts and, far more notably, by highly aggressive behaviour. (

From: Henley
Subject: Following Mac

Dear Landowners and interested parties,

We would just like to tell you all about the exciting news that Mac is back within the APNR and he is looking as impressive as ever!

For those of you who have not yet met Mac or heard about him, we have attached a picture of him and what follows is some background information: Every year since we first collared him in 2002 he has made an annual trek from Shingwedzi in the KNP to the APNR when he comes into musth. Mac gets his name from Tony McClellan, who first sponsored his satellite collar. He moves a distance of approximately 200km in 10 days from the north of Kruger to the south of Timbavati PNR. Last year we were sorry to hear that he was found in very bad body condition with a serious foot injury. The Kruger National Park kindly darted him and treated his wound. Because of his injury and bad body condition he skipped his annual musth cycle and never came down to the Private Reserves. This year we went to check up on his body condition to find him fat and healthy by the end of March. We were sure that he would make his incredible journey when he comes into musth which usually occurs between mid-April to mid-May. He came into musth on the 1st of April and regrettably we missed part of his journey south because of his early musth cycle. Nevertheless, the BBC Natural History Unit wanted to produce a story on Mac as part of their series 'World on the Move'.

Steve and I were asked to follow Mac on his journey southward and we were kindly granted permission to follow him day and night through Kruger into the Private Reserves along management tracks and into the remote wilderness areas of the Kruger. We have had an incredible time and have recorded some of our experiences for the BBC website. Below and attached you will find more details on the programme and also the website where you can read up on some of the reports (at the end of this email). We have just returned from following Mac. When he was about 3km north of the Olifants river we decided to come out at Phalaborwa gate (Saturday morning) and to wait for him as he entered the APNR as we were advised that we would struggle to follow him south of the Olifants and between the APNR. We rushed up to meet Mac and caught him coming into the reserves along the Rietvlei/Ntsiri cutline in the APNR (late Saturday afternoon). When we left him he was still moving south and had just reached Ndolphu.

We hope that now that he is in the APNR you will have the privilege of meeting up with this gentle giant. We will keep checking up on him periodically now that he is back in the heart of the APNR...

Take care

Michelle and Steve Henley


For the latest on Mac’s progress you can also visit BBC Radio’s “World on the Move”. WOtM tracks the migration of animals:

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