IFAW Africa: Zimbabwe Elephants - An addition to the herd!
Report filed by Roger Parry from Wild Horizons Wildlife Trust a local group who conducts wildlife research projects designed to protect wildlife such as elephants. Roger spotted the herd of elephants released last year in a coordinated effort between the Zimbabwe National Society for the Protection of Cruelty against Animals (ZNSPCA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
A recent visit to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe to check on the released elephants revealed an additional (small) member to their herd – a baby (not sure on the sex yet!!) born to Mary about 2-3 weeks ago. Mother, baby and the rest of the herd looking fantastic. Long grass prevented us from sexing the new baby and the numerous photo’s taken showed a “blob” in the long grass!!
It was a very emotional and very special 35 minutes spent with the herd yesterday morning. The day started early when we met with the Warden – Scientific Services at Hwange Main Camp and departed in the company of a Ranger and one University student to try to find the herd. On arriving within their home range area (not far from their release site), we tried to get a download of their position. This was not possible so we drove through the area using the VHF directional antenna in the hope of finding them close to the road. 15 minutes of driving and we picked up A signal not far off the road!! After walking for 2 km (making sure we approached downwind) we came across the herd on the edge of an open area, feeding in some thick mopane woodland.
Visiting and spending time with this group of elephant (I have had 7 sightings in total) is always very special and rewarding, but this time it was extra special!! The first elephant seen was Mary – the calf was not noticed until a little later when she moved out of the thicker bush.
Three of the others (John, Baby Girl and Macnube). The others were in the thick bush. These four then moved out into the opening and it was then we saw movement in the grass at Mary’s feet and then the back of a newborn baby – small trunk frantically waving around as it kept up with its mother.
We were all ecstatic!! We unfortunately did not get a good look at the new born as the others started moving out into the open and we had to back-off. All the others were seen and most photographed as they came out. We got a good look at Nomalanga, Emily and Baby Girl. There was also another older (25yr old) elephant who was not part of the original group who seems to have joined the herd. (We have seen it before). After 10 min or so, Emily saw us and showed some aggression but did not move far. After another 10 min or so, the wind changed and they ran a short distance before moving off with purpose under the leadership of Mary and her new baby. We kept up with them for a short distance and then backed off – not wanting to disturb them further. They moved off into the distance, disappearing into the Mopane woodland looking and acting so much like normal wild elephant. They were looking great!!
A great experience, a special “milestone” for the release of these animals and of course, a huge achievement to all those who took part in making this happen!!
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