May 2013 - Abu’s Wild Elephant Herd Thrives with Birth of New Calf

Jun 5, 2013 |  Botswana |  Okavango Delta |  Abu Camp
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May 2013 - The success of Abu Camp’s elephant reintroduction programme continues to thrive with the birth of a new calf to the elephant cow named Nandipa – her third in the wild since her release in 2003. This wild matriarchal herd now consists of a total of six pachyderms; three sub-adult elephants from the Abu herd – Nandipa, Gikka and Naya – and three wild-born calves – Ntongeni, Nima and the new arrival.

The arrival of Nandipa’s third calf marks a milestone for Abu Camp’s elephant programme supervised by the director of Elephants Without Borders Dr Mike Chase, a San Diego Zoo Post-Doctoral Research Fellow. The programme is managed under the guidance of Wild Horizons, a company with a long history in high quality elephant interaction activities, and Abu Camp’s ten dedicated elephant handlers.

Since the first release in February 2002, Abu Camp has successfully released eight African elephants (3 cows and 5 bulls) into the Okavango Delta under the full support of the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks. All elephants are fitted with GPS collars prior to their reintroduction. Satellite tracking, complimented by on-the-ground monitoring and field observations by students, provides vital clues and information about their behaviour as they integrate into the broader Botswana elephant community. The bulls tend to wander widely, while Nandipa has settled within the Abu Concession – an area within the pristine Okavango Delta, covering some 180 000 hectares.

On 2 August 2011, the gate to Gika and Naya’s reintroduction boma, built 15 km from Abu camp, was opened and within three hours they left the temporary boma to roam freely in their new wild home. Just three days later, Gika and Naya joined up with long-time friend Nandipa, who had been roaming freely for eight years. Elephants Without Borders’ observations suggest that Nandipa is the matriarch of this uniquely special herd. This natural reconciliation and cohesive matriarchal herd, is aligned with Abu’s vision to reintroduce elephants back into the wild.

In 1989, Nandipa and Gikka, together with four other young elephant orphans known as the “brat pack”, were taken to the Okavango Delta after a culling operation in the Kruger National Park. Dr. Kate Evans has recently published a scientific paper on Nandipa’s remarkable journey back into the wild.

The birth of Nandipa’s third calf coincides with new enlightened efforts by Abu Camp to assimilate its elephant herd to live – to the full extent possible – a natural, free ranging life following the habits of their wild cousins, while striving for excellence in elephant welfare. The camp waits with great anticipation to announce the arrival of Gika’s calf which would genuinely instate Abu Camp’s elephant programme as one of the most progressive elephant reintroduction projects in the world. The elephant programme is working alongside Elephants Without Borders who are striving to provide novel science that improves our understanding to conserve these grey giants.

Abu Camp is managed by the Wilderness Collection and the elephant programme is complemented by the company’s 4Cs philosophy – Commerce, Conservation, Community and Culture – which ensures dedication to the highest standards in elephant welfare, scientific research and meaningful guest experiences.

Click here for the full story and images on the ‘We are Wilderness’ blog.

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