An opportunistic elephant that has been getting up to much mischief has finally found peace in the Nyathi section of Addo Elephant National Park.
Words by Taryn Arnott van Jaarsveld. Originally published in SANParks Times.
The bull, which is one of the individuals that was moved into Addo from Kruger National Park in 2005, has been finding creative ways of accessing water, in what is likely a bid to avoid competition at waterholes in the midst of the drought.
Amongst the elephants offences are stabbing Jojo water cans with his tusk to get to water, pulling the pump out of a borehole to use it as an extended straw for his trunk, and knocking down fences in staff residential areas in order to get closer to water.
“Elephants are fussy drinkers. We have the odd problem with the occasional bull, but finding easy ways to get to water became a habit for him,” says conservation manager at Addo, John Adendorff.
Despite his behaviour, the elephant is not an aggressive animal at all. “He has a long trunk, which seems to get him into trouble. He is also very fussy about having access to clean water,” says Adendorff. “He even learnt how to open gates, and would often stick his trunk over the electric fencing without getting shocked. He was always one step ahead of us.”
In an effort to ‘prevent the elephant from causing further disruptions or injury to himself, the decision was taken to move him from the main section of Addo – where he has been a challenge for management – to the Nyathi section.
“Nyathi has beautiful mountain pools, rivers, streams and springs. As long as he remains up in the mountains, he stays out of trouble,” says Adendorff.
When time came to move the elephant, an eight-ton truck proved inadequate for lifting him. “He’s an incredibly heavy animal. Even though we brought a second truck and crane in, it was a massive logistical challenge to load him,” says Adendorff.
Now settled in Nyathi, the elephant has once or twice headed towards accommodation areas. But the boundaries have since been upgraded and he is slowly getting used to newly-upgraded electric fencing.
The offender has been moving along with the herd since being moved to the section, which is home to about 120 elephants.
“We’ve gone to a lot of effort to make sure this elephant is kept out of harm’s way and remains an icon elephant within the Addo herd. We are hoping it will all work out well,” says Adendorff.