The !Khamab elephant population is growing!
In 2022, we successfully translocated three elephant bulls from Limpopo and Eastern Cape Province to embark on a new journey on !Khamab Kalahari Reserve.
This operation was the final step towards ensuring a complete social structure on the reserve.
This move was done with the sole intention of improving the lives of the elephants on each of the two reserves. It was both ecologically & socially significance to these populations & will have long reaching benefits to the futures of these elephants.
Norman walks into a new beginning
Several years ago, Norman was moved off his reserve onto a separate smaller property as a temporary solution following being badly injured by other bulls. He was living solitary as he was the only elephant on that section with limited space.
Therefore, it was decided to move him onto a new reserve which provides a larger range with increased forage and other elephants for this guy to interact with.
This much-loved bull has now been given a new lease on life as he now joins a system that can benefit greatly from a mature bull who can act as mentor and companion to the younger bulls and resident herd on the reserve. This new reserve needed an older bull for their bull hierarchy as currently there is only a bull in his 20's whilst the next oldest bull is only 8 years old.
This would not have been possible without Amakhala Game Reserve and Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve who saw that there was a possibility to improve this elephant's life, as well as improve the social situation in the reserve he was moved to.
A massive thank you to Marina Demierre who generously funded this operation, as well as to the incredible effort of a fantastic team.
Norman's Movements Post Release
Post release Month One
Post release Month Five
Post release Month Twelve
Elephants and Wine Pairing
Pairing elephants and wine, a stunning combination!
This unique pairing comes from our collaboration with Black Elephant Vintners, who we’re immensely grateful to, for supporting our cause with One Rand for each Can sold.
Whether you love elephants or you simply love wine, this great cause is worth supporting.
For every can sold, R1 is donated to ERT
Let’s spread the word!
In 2022, we attended the annual Southern Africa Wildlife Management conference to present our latest research projects.
Tammy Eggeling discussed whether facilitating natural social structures can correct for unnatural and unwanted behaviour in bull elephants. The project was a case study of Pilanesberg National Park 20 years after the introduction of an initial incomplete population.
Tenisha Roos presented the aims and objectives, as well as the research outcomes of our study focusing on the movement patterns of two reintegration elephant populations on two fenced reserves in South-Africa directly after release and 4 years post release.
Many thanks for HSI-Africa for the sponsoring Tammy whom attended and presented in person at the conference
Click on the images to view the presentations
Tammy Eggeling SAWMA 2022 Presentation
Tenisha Roos SAWMA 2022 Presentation
Greater Welfare Project continued with grant from HSI-Africa.
A huge thanks you to HSI-Africa for funding our next three-years to continue our crucial elephant research.
Our research focusses on the welfare of elephants on fenced reserves who all have various pressures from tourism and necessary management interventions. The goal is to determine the impact of these interventions, on the behaviour and physiological responses of African elephants.
We also continue to monitor our rewilded elephants to evaluate the long-term changes in behaviour, movement patterns, herd dynamics and response towards various stimuli.
In short, our research is currently based on three key items:
1. Elephant Behaviour
Monitoring detailed behavioural frequencies, social interactions between different individuals, behaviour towards vehicles and other species is key in determining these effects.
We are also researching the effect of GnRH (Gonadotropin hormone-releasing hormone) on the behaviour of bull elephants and the effect on the elephant population.
2. Elephant Movement Patterns
The home range sizes, seasonal changes in movement, effect of diurnal cycle on movement patterns, and adaptation after translocation or reintegrations of elephants give us great insight into their daily lives and how they use the system on which they live.
3. Elephant Stress Levels
A different way of counting steps….We collared elephants!
We undertook re-collaring three of our reintegrated elephants residing on !Khamab Kalahari Reserve to continue monitoring movement patterns as we worked to towards finalising the reserve's elephant structure.
This is also extremely important to understanding how reintegrated elephants move once rewilded by investigating the difference in movement patterns of ex-captive, as well as translocated bulls of various ages.
This data will contribute towards our study focusing on the effect of a complete social structure on the bull-associations, as well as the interactions between the bulls and the herds.
Spreading the word: Conferences in 2021
In 2021, we attended the annual Southern Africa Wildlife Management conference to present our latest research projects. A huge thank you to the EMS Foundation for sponsoring Tammy & Tenisha to present at the conference.
Tenisha Roos presented on developing welfare parameters for elephants on fenced reserves in South Africa.
Tammy Eggeling presented on the most important welfare parameters that can be used to assess the welfare of elephants as they transition from a captive environment to a wild system.
Click on the images to view the presentations
Monitoring elephants glucocorticoid levels alongside behaviour and movement allows us to study the impact of various management and tourist interventions on the stress-levels of elephants.
One of our goals for 2020 was to introduce a wild herd onto the reserve which accommodates our original, previously captive herd. This introduction aimed to provide a more natural system for the reintegrated group by giving them another herd to have social interactions with - something critically important for the wellbeing of elephants as a whole.
In 2019 we became aware of a reserve that was desperately looking to decrease it’s elephant population numbers or it would ultimately consider using culling as a form of bringing its elephant numbers down. This is not an outcome anyone would hope for and we were determined to at least save one herd from this population.
In spite of 2020 odds, and in partnership with some incredible organisations, we were able to save and translocate a herd from this reserve to join our reintegrated herd on their much larger reserve.
Happy faces after a successful elephant collaring and translocation
Just in Time for Happy Hour
Loading the herd of elephants to be moved to their new reserve where their lives would no longer be in jeopardy.
This would not have been possible without Fondation Franz Webber eagerly jumping on board to support this move just in the nick of time. Thanks also to HSI-Africa and Global Supplies, we were simultaneously able to collar the herds for monitoring purposes and the implementation of the immuno-contraceptive program which will be used to humanely control the growth of this population.
This initiative and collaboration was certainly a highpoint in the year and we could not be more grateful for such valued partners.
The herd safely loaded in a large, specialized truck for transit.
After releasing the wild herd onto their new home, none of us could have predicted the incredible sequence of events that followed. The resident elephants must have heard the rumbles of the newcomers and within an hour they began approaching and met up with them.
What’s more, the resident reintegrated herd immediately led the new, likely very thirsty, elephants to the closest waterhole. Their bond was now forged, and these herds have not split up since.
Their sensitivity and communication never ceases to amaze.
Drive 2 Rewild
As we kickstarted our second project, in order to allow a second field researcher to expand data collection opportunities onto other reserves, we found ourselves in need of a second research vehicle.
Not necessarily the easiest thing to fundraise for, but with the support of a few very generous donors we are happy to say that a trusty old second hand Toyota Prado was added to our fleet.
Special thanks to Ashleigh Simms & the EMS Foundation who donated a large portion of the funds needed to make this possible.
We are extremely excited to announce that we are securing ERT as a listed charity on the MySchool system in South Africa!
Now MySchool and Woolworths card holders are able to select us as a beneficiary (up to three beneficiaries can be added, so fear not if there are other causes you would like to keep supporting too!). This means that while card holders shop at stores such as Woolworths, Waltons, Builders or fill up at Engen, proceeds will go towards ERT without costing them anything extra. There’s nothing to lose!
We extend a huge thank you to those who have already signed up and added us as a beneficiary (otherwise let us know if you would like to still be sent the user friendly digital application form), the support means the absolute world to us.
Please feel free to encourage any friends and family who might be interested in signing up too, as support like this goes a long way in keeping an organisation like ours going.
Establishing Welfare Parameters on Small Fenced Game Reserves
In order to complement our work on reintegrating captive elephants, we have embarked on a project endeavoring to understand how to better assess elephant welfare on fenced reserves. Our project on understanding the effects of various management activities on elephant welfare has seen us visiting several reserves spread across South Africa over the last year and a half. As the first official research project we have embarked on, we are excited to be wrapping up the first part and collating all this data at last. It has been so encouraging to see the interest with which these reserves have embraced involvement in this project while also making reserve resources available to help us maximise data collection opportunities. This work would not be possible without this buy-in from these reserves as they so kindly accommodated our field researchers for at least 6 weeks of the year allowing for the collection of this valuable data.
With elephants being such complex animals, everything from reserve size, to tourist density, to herd and social dynamics can play very influential roles on their wellbeing. It is our objective to turn our findings into constructive feedback for each of these reserves as we continue to grow our understanding of what it takes to best manage elephants on fenced reserves in South Africa.
We are extremely grateful for the support of the EMS Foundation that has seen the value in this work and enabled us to carry this project out.
Monitoring Reintegrated Herds
It is hard to believe that it’s been five years already since we initiated our first two elephant reintegration operations. Both herds were previously used to conduct elephant-back safaris and have now both been fully reintegrated onto large reserves where they are still doing well and roaming as free elephants. We continue to follow up with monitoring sessions on these two particularly important reintegrated groups to ensure they are still doing well and to document all stages of this process for future reference.
Four years after their release and still loving the freedom of no longer being used for elephant back safaris as they enjoy a mud bath as a family.
Collaring the original reintegrated herd to monitor the progress of this group getting acquainted with a wild herd introduced to the population. Having a wild herd to interact with is both good for genetics and important for the social wellbeing of this reintegrated herd as elephants are such family and socially centered animals!
Clocking up the observation hours as we delve into the intricacies of what different behavioral occurrences and frequencies can tell us.
Auction Under the Lowveld Stars
We spent a beautiful evening under the stars alongside Elephants Alive in Hoedspruit for a fundraising evening focused on celebrating elephants. With some incredibly generous prizes donated for the auction and raffle, the evening was both informative and a great success.
Elephants Alive donated a portion of the proceeds to ERT which we were incredibly grateful for. Not only are we able to support each other through research collaborations but it is great to be able to support and raise awareness for likeminded organisations like this too.
Special thanks to Singita Sabi Sands for donating a beautiful print of an elephant, taken by their resident photographer Ross Couper, for the auction.
Taking Elephants Out The Room
In September 2019, ERT took part in a panel discussion hosted by the EMS foundation in Hermanus.
The focus of the panel was to highlight the concerns around so many elephants in captivity in South Africa.
With commentary from several world-renowned elephant specialists and experts from across the globe, a range of aspects were addressed with ERT trustees, Brett Mitchell, Dr Yolanda Pretorius and Dr Marion Garai also taking part, whose presentations covered “The Captive Elephant Industry in South Africa”, “Comparing Elephant Situations” and “Elephants in Zoos Worldwide” respectively.
These thought provoking conversations were recorded and made available for streaming and all topics covered can be found on the EMS Foundation’s YouTube channel.
Bundles of Joy and hope
Following these two separate reintegration's, both herds have since had calves born to them. This is perhaps the ultimate indication of success, as elephants in captivity predominantly struggle to breed due to fitness problems, stress, and lack of knowledge, amongst other things. Therefore, we are delighted about the birth of these calves and the value they add to these herds as well as to the conservation of elephants.
SAWMA 2019 Conference
Considering the importance of public engagement and awareness around elephant conservation, 2019 saw us taking part in the annual South African Wildlife Management Symposium. This conference was attended by 160 delegates including wildlife scientists and managers alike with Tammy Eggeling, presenting on the aims, objectives, and methods of ERTs welfare project which was still in its beginning phase at that point. Next, we hope to be able to present some interesting findings that will provide further insight into better understanding elephant dynamics in the context of highly managed fenced reserves. A huge thank you to EMS Foundation for sponsoring our costs to this symposium.