Pretoria - In a bid to avert scenes witnessed on social media recently of an angry elephant attacking people during a game drive at Selati Game Reserve in Limpopo, the Dinokeng Game Reserve Management Association has taken the precautionary step of examining their own herd.
The Dinokeng Game Reserve Management Association (DGRMA) and Dinokeng Game Enterprises (DGE) cited that in a bid to minimise the risk to human life they had taken the decision to have a veterinary expert examine the Marekele matriarch today.
The association said the decision to check the elephant followed a lengthy process and partly due to its increasingly unpredictable behaviour of late.
Angus Vosges, the Director and Chairperson of the Dinokeng Game Enterprise, said even though euthanisation would be considered as the last resort, it would be irresponsible of the association and the enterprise to not act.
ELEPHANT ATTACK. ON FOREST ROA pic.twitter.com/B3cjrBBAml— Alex Thomas (@vasaialex) December 2, 2021
"We believe the risk to human life is just too great. We have been monitoring the herd, training guides on elephant behaviour and educating the public, but there is a high number of people traversing through the reserve on two public roads, including buses and taxis. We also have three schools including a primary school in the park.”
He added that with self-drives increasing in the centre and south of the game reserve, which was effectively in an uncontrolled area, and the fact that it was impossible to train all the public, the risk to human life was too great.
Vosges said although every game reserve that allowed tourists through had risks, the Dinokeng Game Reserve was not exempt from this and was even more so at risk because it was a smaller sized reserve with a high density of human activity.
This video shows the aftermath of an attack on a Safari vehicle. They didn't respect the elephants space. 🐘![CDATA]>🐘![CDATA]>🐘 pic.twitter.com/4WpHOPumM6— Country Bumpkin Beau 🌊![CDATA]>🌊![CDATA]>🌊![CDATA]>🇺![CDATA]>🇲![CDATA]>🇺![CDATA]>🇲![CDATA]>🇺![CDATA]>🇲 (@CountryB1994) November 30, 2021
The association said since the elephant herd from the Marataba section in Marakele National Park was received at the end of 2019, they had done what they could to mitigate the risk to human life while considering the wellbeing of the elephant herd.
In fact, Vosges said over the last two years, the reserve had consulted with elephant experts, and attempts were made to change the matriarchs behaviour, and implemented various recommended risk mitigation initiatives.
He said these were conducted through workshops, guide training, and elephant monitoring during last year.
In addition to the initiatives, he added that the game reserve had made information on elephant viewing available on their website and provided detailed pamphlets for guests at pay-points upon purchasing a self-drive permit.
"Despite these efforts, the matriarch’s behaviour has become increasingly unpredictable, with many game guide vehicles being charged, damaged, and one game drive vehicle was overturned with one person injured."
“If a tragedy occurs related to the Marekele matriarch it would undo all the successful animal conservation programmes at the Dinokeng Game Reserve, thereby affecting tourism, employment and ultimately the livelihoods of the community. This is not what anyone wants.”
By the afternoon the reserve announced that the darting of the matriarch was conducted with no issues experienced and that she was up and running again.