Thandora shrugging off zoo habits

2013-05-02 18:35
Thandora walking. (Greg Vogt, Conservation Global)

Thandora walking. (Greg Vogt, Conservation Global)

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Cape Town - Thandora, the plucky elephant released into the Gondwana Game Reserve two weeks ago is slowly losing her zoo habits and spending more time browsing and grazing like a wild elephant.

Greg Vogt of Conservation Global, who is helping Godwana with Thandora's re-introduction to the wild, believes they must persist with their plan of slowly keeping further and further from the elephant whilst ensuring she makes regular contact with the other cows, especially in daylight.

Describing his shift watching over Thandora on Wednesday night, Vogt said that as he leaned over to get his camera two huge shapes suddenly loomed large.

Just prior to that Thandora had assumed the, "females are very close" pose, right next to my vehicle," he said.

Vogt said noticed the pose but thought she was just tired from the long walk that day.

The two cows and Thandora began interacting, almost over the vehicle.

He continued, "It is really amazing to witness these interactions, but they get scary when Bonnie [one of the cows] loses interest in Thandora and begins testing the car!"

Vogt said the interaction was up and down.

When the girls approached her she would back off but, when the cows started grazing Thandora would edge closer almost saying, "I want to be closer to you guys", he said.

A little later the two cows moved her away from the vehicle by each taking a side and edging her into the fynbos, and the group then faded into the night.

"I waited for a half an hour in the silence of the night before moving away and leaving her for the night in the company of the other elephants," said Vogt.

"It was so difficult having to just ' trust'."

At sunrise on Thursday Vogt and his team found Thandora alone, grazing peacefully, and it appeared that she spent most of the night with the herd.

The plan going forward is to monitor the females from a distance and try to get them to meet during the day.

When Thandora approaches the vehicle the team will gently back off and maintain a distance of at least 50m.

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