Search for Distressed Elephant

© Jacques Marais

Kruger Park News Archive

The uproar over a cow elephant in distress at a game reserve abutting the Kruger National Park took another turn on Tuesday, with the animal having wandered off into the bush.

"We can't locate it right now. It was well enough to have walked away," Djuma Private Game Reserve owner Jurie Moolman told Sapa.

Djuma is one of more than a dozen lodges and reserves that make up the 65 000 hectare Sabi Sand Reserve, which shares an unfenced 50km border with the Kruger.

On Monday this week, the group Animal Rights Africa demanded the reserve's owners help an apparently suffering cow elephant, which had been spotted on one of the reserve's live webcams.

Birth complications according to the group, the elephant had suffered for over two weeks with what appeared to be birth complications. Moolman said on Tuesday it had only become clear at the end of last week that the elephant was in distress.

The reserve had "a policy of non-intervention when it comes to animals in distress not caused by humans".In the case of the elephant, it had been obvious the distress was not caused by humans.

"It is not clear if the animal is in fact experiencing a miscarriage or whether she is constipated. It is amazing how much is read into a few video clips," he said. However, the Sabi Sand Reserve's ecological committee had decided to intervene in the case of this particular animal."To this end, Dr. Roy Bengis of Kruger National Park was asked to dart the animal and ascertain what she is suffering from," Moolman said. Wandered off In the meantime, the cow elephant had wandered off into the bush.

"Staff are looking for her at the moment. Between Sabi Sand and the Kruger National Park, we have between 10 and 15 people trying to find her," he said. Moolman said he was shocked and amazed by the "vitriolic attacks" launched against himself and his staff in connection with the incident.

"Our policy of non-intervention is crucial to our management of these reserves. "It seems nobody has asked themselves the obvious reductio ad absurdum that their insistence upon intervention leads to: What if lions kill a buffalo cow with a young calf, and then do not kill that calf, but use it to teach their cubs how to hunt?"

"Will I be asked to rescue the calf? Is it even necessary to discuss how wrong this intervention would be?"

"This whole incident has left me cynical about these organisations and what they are actually trying to achieve," Moolman said. On Monday, SANParks general manager of media, Reynold Thakhuli, said the parks' policy was that if an animal was in pain and it could be helped, they would intervene. This could not be done for example, if an animal fell off a cliff and would not be able to heal.

In such cases they would dart the animal and then euthanise it. SANParks had arranged to have the elephant darted and examined. In a statement on Tuesday, the National Council of SPCAs said it had been in contact with Moolman and "advised him of our grave concerns for the welfare of this animal".

It said Moolman had confirmed serious efforts were being made to find the elephant. "We trust that the best interest of the elephant will be taken into account and that humane and ethical considerations will form the basis of decisions taken in respect of this elephant," it said.- SAPA

Kruger National Park - South African Safari