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Elephant Capture and Translocation

The past few months have been a challenging time for the Conservation Team responding to several bull elephants frequently breaching the Camp fence in search of good quality browse.

Traditionally, during the winter months, there is a noticeable trend of increased breaches as the veld conditions dry out. Elephants are attracted to the Camp because they are able to find a “green bite” to eat. Consider all the soakaways servicing the bungalows that sustain a longer season of green foliage for the vegetation. The Camp is an oasis compared to the surrounding veld, exacerbated after several seasons of below average rainfall creating a serious drought condition.

There were up to four elephant bulls in Camp at any one point in time. The Camp is designated as an elephant free zone for several reasons, namely human safety, damage to infrastructure, damage to water pipes & water wastage and an important environmental factor is the conservation effort towards the large trees in Camp, especially along the riparian areas. The protection of these trees is a critical contributor to the seed bank of these various tree species.

These elephant bulls caused considerable damage to the Camp infrastructure. The Maintenance Team will go about affecting the necessary repairs during the coming weeks. On 16 August, Elephants Alive assisted the Conservation Team to immobilise and relocate the identified bull that would not leave Camp. It is with huge appreciation that the elephant bull could be relocated to the southern portion of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.

Elephant immobilised after darting

Elephant lifted and loaded onto a load bed truck

Ready to be relocated to a new home

Thank you to Elephants Alive, the Umbabat Warden, Timbavati Staff and the Conservation Team for the successful capture and translocation of this elephant bull.

More interesting elephant facts:

  • In terms of conservation status, the IUCN red data list classifies African elephants as vulnerable.
  • The extra-large ears are special adaptations to aid cooling and thermo regulation.
  • 3 sets of molars follow the initial milk teeth.
  • Death in old age is usually caused by malnutrition due to worn molars and poor food digestion.
  • Elephants cover large distances and aid seed dispersal and germination through their dung.
  • Man is their top predator, through hunting and habitat destruction.
  • Some lion prides are known to be specialist elephant hunters.
  • Elephants have soft pads underneath their feet which are sensitive and why they don’t walk over sharp stones and protruding objects.
  • Longevity in the wild is about 60 years.
  • The Forest elephant is a species Loxodonta cyclotis
  • Mud and sand bathing are practised for protection against ecto-parasites and the sun.
  • Elephants can communicate in sub tones inaudible to the human ear.
  • It is thought that elephants have an ability to mourn death.


by John Llewellyn