Most employees at the Palabora Mining Company (PMC), adjacent the Kruger National Park in the Phalaborwa area, takes the abundant wildlife roaming the mining area in their stride. At times, the odd rogue requires particular attention, as was the case recently.
An inquisitive elephant bull was ambling along the site roaming an area between one section of the plant and some offices when he was persuaded to return to the surrounding bush. The animals are normally very tolerant of the staff and mine activities, but sometimes the interaction becomes a little too close-up and personal.
The security staff were called in and the bull was escorted to a safer area. He did make his presence known to all he encountered on the way, with head shakes and mock charges, before he eventually, indignantly disappeared in the lowveld bushes.
The mine is situated within a wildlife sanctuary. There is a dam on site, close to one of the roads, that is often visited by elephants, where they frolic and play to their hearts' content. Many visitors to site, especially first timers, are amazed at the interaction, but even the old hands all enjoy the sightings. With a particularly dry winter coming to an end, animals are all over the property, looking for food and water and it is not an uncommon early morning sight to find elephant droppings in the roads, gardens and sometimes even on doorsteps.
Baboons, monkeys, squirrels, waterbuck, impala, buffalo and giraffe have made themselves comfortable on the mine premises, and security staff are not unfamiliar with issuing the odd lion warning. On a sadder note, many baboons are maimed when they investigate the workings of machinery or equipment.
Ingenious door locks can be seen all over. A favourite is to turn the handles upside down; a trick not yet discovered by our primate friends. Some doors sport two handles, and while baboon proof dustbins are the order of the day, the resident troops still scrounge, scavenge and make their presence felt.