Kirsty Redman, environmental interpretive education officer for the Kruger National Park (KNP), was at the Honorary Rangers' Indaba in Berg-en-Dal when she received slightly out of the ordinary news about the elephant statue in front of the Letaba elephant hall.
When colleague Joe Nkuna, section ranger at the Letaba section, confirmed that the elephant statue was indeed 'leaning', her initial scepticism turned into immediate action. She gathered a number of experts to assess the situation. With the safety of visitors foremost in mind, the debate turned in favour of moving the elephant to a more isolated spot until the necessary repairs can be done.
The inner support steel structure had begun crumbling due to rust. According to sculptor, Phil Minnaar, repairs would either entail bronzing the fibre-glass structure or repairing the inner steel structure. The statue was erected in 1994 and is "way past its projected lifetime." Unfortunately, Minnaar will be busy for the next six months with another big sculpture for a major sports franchise.
"We hope he can commence repairs sooner, or we might ask him to refer us to someone else who can assist," says Kirsty.
In the meantime the statue has found a new, temporary home in a hole in the ground at the staff village, courtesy of the efforts of Derek Visagie, Piet van Wyk, Joe Nkuna and their 'translocation' team.