Environmental affairs officials are still hunting for a wounded elephant that was shot at the junction of the tar road between Phalaborwa and Hoedspruit and the road to Gravelotte. The elephant, believed to be a young bull, was shot in the small hours of the morning of June 8, 2006 with a .375 calibre rifle.
At least three bullets hit the animal, which sustained injuries to its leg and shoulder. According to Bert Howard, regional nature conservation official, the 22-year-old man who shot the elephant will be charged with illegal hunting. Two other witnesses accompanied the man at the time, but allegedly did not shoot.
Howard could not comment on allegations that the three people were under the influence of alcohol at the time, but confirmed that all three were under the age of 25. The elephant was walking along the tar road near the farm Lekkergoed when the shots were fired at it, allegedly in an attempt to stop it breaking the fence and entering the land alongside the road.
Once wounded, the elephant fled towards Balule Private Nature Reserve, where the spoor showed it joining a small group of elephants. The elephants subsequently crossed the Olifants River into the southern section of Balule. A helicopter was hired to try and find the elephant from the air, but it could not be located.
At the time of going to press it had still not been found by the trackers in the veld, and Howard believes it will not be found unless it starts causing a problem on Balule. He says that as the elephant was shot with soft-point bullets and has not yet been located, it is likely that it will recover from its injuries.