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Crisis averted with Christmas elephant

Crisis averted with Christmas elephant

Niël Terblanché

THE very rare and unique visit to Swakopmund by a young elephant bull on Christmas Eve caused a huge stir at the coast as hundreds of people flocked to the spot where the animal was first seen by motorists.


The desert adapted elephant was seen only a few hundred metres from the spot at Mile 4 where another rare animal made an appearance a little more than two years ago. The appearance of a Bryde’s whale on the beach had marine scientists from all over the world very excited because it was the first time that a complete skeleton of the animal could be preserved for further study.


It is believed that the elephant became disorientated because of hunger and thirst after it was spotted west of Omaruru over the weekend. It wandered all the way to Swakopmund and to within a few hundred metres of the Mile 4 residential area.


The huge crowd of people that formed next to the road between Swakopmund and Henties Bay had to be controlled by police and traffic officials to avoid them aggravating the already disorientated elephant.


Footage: Niël Terblanché


Several solutions were contemplated to get the huge animal back to where it came from. One option that was considered was to dart it with a tranquiliser and to transport it on a low bed truck back its natural habitat.


In the end the simplest solution worked best for the beast when officials from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism assisted by a veterinarian coaxed the elephant in a north easterly direction to send it back to the Omaruru River from where it should find its way back to the Ugab River near the Brandberg from where it came.


While the elephant was making it homeward journey members of the public involved with human wildlife conflict resolution and MET officials put a tank filled with fresh water and some fodder on its way.


The elephant stopped off and drank about a hundred litres of water and ate all the fodder that was laid out for it before continuing its walk back to the Omaruru River.


The animal was first spotted on the outskirts of Swakopmund at about 07:00 and by 15:00 it was already 30 kilometres north east of the holiday town. The elephant will be closely monitored by officials until it is safely back where it belongs.

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