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An elephant-size problem

An elephant-size problem

It is hardwork rescuing an elephant
It is hardwork rescuing an elephant
Dr Rachel DeMotts

Getting out of a hole is no small problem when you are this size!

Kazungula is a small residential border town nestled between the Chobe River and Kasane Forest Reserve. The people of the community are no strangers to elephants passing their homes, as herds regularly make their way down from the forest ridge, across the main tar road, heading for the river to drink in the evenings.

Routine early morning sounds were disrupted by the distress call of an elephant one day during February. Residents shuffled out to discover a full-grown elephant cow had fallen into a manmade ditch, which was part of an abandoned home plot under construction, right in the middle of their community.

A crowd gathered around her in awe, while Kasane’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ (DWNP) Problem Animal Control division was called. After an assessment that she seemed to be unharmed, discussion turned to how to get her out. It was decided to dig a much longer trench in the hope that she could walk out unassisted.

A JCB excavator tractor was brought in to accomplish the task. After many stressful hours, as the crowd grew in anticipation and curiosity, the trench was finally complete. The elephant was tired, hesitant and confused, but eventually, with a slight nudge, she walked up the path that had been built for her.

She took a few moments to gather her wits and strength before moving on. The DWNP paralleled her course, warning residents to remain in their homes until the stressed elephant could flee back into the forest, where her family herd awaited her return.

A potentially dangerous situation for all involved was resolved with no harm to the elephant or the people of Kazungula. Well done Botswana’s DWNP!

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 12, March 2013)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:

From the Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Elephants Without Borders