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 shot and ki.l.led most of these species are found in the Western Cape.
He added that relocating the elephants was a mammoth task.
“No cost was spared to ensure that a team of researchers, veterinarians and conservationists keep a close eye on the process while monitoring behaviour.
“One of the newly introduced elephants at Aquila was orphaned and rehabilitated before being released back into the wild. Born in captivity, the other elephant offers conservation teams a great research opportunity, observing it now, roaming free, alongside the other Big 5 and wildlife on the reserve,” he said.
While the release and introduction were considered a success, it was not entirely without incident. He said an elephant had to confront a rhino. “After a huge display of mock charging, trumpeting and ear flapping, both parties went away unhurt 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”.
Elephants’ levels of anxiety and stress are minimal, and “their trunk attitude and body postures are satisfying.”
“Moving and reintroducing wildlife is always risky, and I want to thank the teams that have overseen the movement of these beautiful animals. It’s incredibly exciting to witness this moment, and we’re proud to continue our wildlife conservation work while expanding our wildlife populations,” added Derman.