|The Story Of TheGentle Giant continues
Report received on 08-03-2010from Geoffrey Craig-Cooper - WRF
Wits Rural Facility hosted the Gentle Giant again over the week end.
He followed the previous pattern of going from one marula tree to the next, filling his belly with marula fruit. He again did the rounds but the season of the marula fruit is fast coming to an end, hence Big Foot's decision to go back on his own accord as the saying goes, "the grass is not always greener on the other side."
He arrived on Friday evening and returned to his home farm early Monday morning, leaving the "door" open this time. At least Thornybush Private Reserve did not have to pick up another hefty bill of R40,000.00.
MAJESTIC 54 YEAR OLD VETERAN ELEPHANT VISITOR TO WITS RURAL FACILITY-16 FEBRUARY 2010
Report received on 24-02-2010 from Geoffrey Craig-Cooper - WRF
What a thrill and a pure privilege it has been for us to host this Gentle Giant over the past few days. Emails have been pouring in for the Elephants goodwill, sadly however, he had to be forcibly moved back to whence he came - Thornybush Game Reserve. The whole operation had to be very carefully planned, coordinated and executed ... after all he is a 7 ton plus elephant and a bushveld veteran of 54 years old.
Once the Elephant was found, the first 40 minutes had 4 of us in the all terrain Unimog, chasing after the elephant in very thick vegetation, while he played hide & seek. This was the less expensive way to go but it was just not working out, so the services of an experienced Pilot & Helicopter was summonsed, from Gravelotte area to assist and arrived some 25 minutes later. The chopper was in the air for all of 5 minutes when the dart from the vet?s gun struck home. Approx 8 minutes later the elephant slumped to the floor, in a deep sleep. Fortunately too Mother Nature smiled on us as it was a cool overcast morning with occasional drizzle, which aided in keeping the elephant cool.
The operation that followed took experts and a work force of 17, two hours, to load the elephant onto the mechanized flat bed trailer, together with the aid of a crane.
After this he was transported back to Thornybush through a section of the fence line near Caravilla. He was offloaded 15 minutes later and given the "wake up cocktail" to get him on his feet again. Fortunately there were no mishaps and as far as we can tell no adverse effects on the Elephant nevertheless the Thornybush field staff will be keeping a watchful eye on him over the next 24 hours.
For interest the exercise took from 05:30hrs and finished at 12:00hrs and the cost implications came to just under R40, 000.00.
Report received on 18-02-2010 from Geoffrey Craig-Cooper - WRF
The elephant is still on the property and has pushed over a number of trees so far. We have followed him for a while this morning hoping he would cross back into Thornybush as he was going into that direction - we are enjoying him on the property, quite exciting actually.
Report received on 18-02-2010 from Vanessa Lomas -WRF
It has really been a privilege to have had this beautiful creature on our property in the last few days. He has been seen by many people including staff, who have all viewed him from a comfortable distance and they have all enjoyed the thrill.
Thornybush management are hoping that he would return seeing that the main elephant heard was close to the Wits Rural Facility fence on Thursday morning, however he did not cross the fence line.
He is presently made his way from the riverbed, near Cleve and Belinda s property back up to the airstrip area. He has had water from our animal water troughs and has eaten plenty of Marula fruit. It would seem that his is quite comfortable staying here.
The co-ordination of the game capture team, Veterinarians, vehicles, etc. has begun. We foresee that all going well and weather permitting and if he has not returned by then that the translocation team will arrive here on Monday or Tuesday to start with the process of returning him to Thornybush.
This is obviously not just a case of darting an antelope and putting him on a truck. This is a well known, 7 ton, 54 year old veteren elephant and the last thing that anyone would want is to lose him through hasty decision making. This translocation has to be done in the right way and in the right climate i.e. cooler weather.
Please be vigilant and do not walk or jog on the property until he has been safely translocated.
Report received on 17-02-2010 from Geoffrey Craig-Cooper - WRF
The elephant is still on WRF - I went tracking at first light and followed the spoor for miles. He is now very thirsty and looking for water - he has been eating sweeties (ripe marula fruit) as far as he goes. Thornybush Senior Ranger, Eugene, and the local Section Ranger, Johan, discussed all the options etc. I have given all at WRF and neighbours warning and the gates have notices to hand out to everyone entering WRF. The most favorable option is to leave things as is and hopefully he will make his way back in a day or two. The usual methods of driving an elephant back using a helicopter or a shotgun with bird pellets does not work on this 54 year old bull. He is a Kruger elephant who arrived in Thornybush in 1995 and only once broke out into Kapama and they tried everything to bring him back using 3 helicopters in the process and thousands of Rands later. Eventually they had to dart him and translocate him at another huge expense ? the joys of having the Big 5. He is presently about 700 metres from the Lodge on the main road.
Report received on 16-02-2010 from Geoffrey Craig-Cooper - WRF
It is confirmed that there is a bull elephant on WRF property. He is not in "musth" which could makehimaggressive.
Hismain reason, we think for coming over is the attraction for our ripe Marula which is faling off the Marula trees.
Thornybush personnel, section rangers and senior rangers are monitoring the situation and there is a plan to get him back to Thornybush. However, he will no doubt be on the property for a few days and hopefully will return to Thornybush on his own accord. If this fails, the necessary action will be put in place i.e. to relocate him back.
He is not a threat to human life or property and has never known to damage property at Thornybush.