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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Elephants free captive antelope.

The touching story of Alexander's friend trying to rouse him (previous post) reminded me of another amazing elephant story from South Africa. In 2003 conservationists watched in amazement as a a herd of elephants rescued antelope from a relocation enclosure.

A private game capture company had been working on the Thula Thula Exclusive Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal capturing antelope that were to be relocated for a breeding programme. Shortly before relocation the antelope were being housed in a boma enclosure which was approached by 11 elephants.

Lawrence Anthony said his capture team thought the elephants were approaching the enclosure to share the bales of lucerne being fed to the captive antelope. The herd circled the enclosure while the capture team watched warily. This went on for quite a while until the herd seemed to back off from the boma perimeter fence. The matriarch, named Nana, moved to the gate and very carefully and deliberately undid all the gate's metal latches with her trunk and pushed it open.

"At this stage the onlookers realised this was not a mission for free food, but actually a rescue," said Lawrence.

The herd watched the antelope leave the boma and dart off before they walked off into the night. They did not give the food a second glance.

Thula Thula resident Ecologist Brendon Whittington-Jones said: "Elephant are naturally inquisitive, but this behaviour is certainly most unusual and cannot be explained in scientific terms".

I have heard that these elephants were themselves captured and relocated and that perhaps they remembered that ordeal. This is unconfirmed.
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Postscript 02/19/09:
See interesting comment posted by Yvette on the background of these elephants. After reading this I found Lawrence Anthony's website with details on the amazing story of these elephants and Lawrence as "The Elephant Whisperer".

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2 Comments:

Blogger Yvette said...

I work closely with Lawrence at the The Earth Organization which Lawrence founded. His elephants were indeed inhabitants of the boma when they first arrived on the reserve. They were rescued from several herds some of which had been culled, so they were very unhappy when they arrived. Lawrence has written a book about this experience which is being launched on the 1st of June. It is called "The Elephant Whisperer", and is most entertaining. It is being launched in London and New York.

February 19, 2009 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Rob Breen said...

Thanks for the additional insight Yvette. I'd love to connect with you and Lawrence to find out more about this and his book. I am on rob@roarafrica.com should you be OK with that. Thanks.... Rob

February 19, 2009 at 9:42 AM  

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