Justice for Riff Raff, the elephant (South Africa)

Apr 23, 2019 | News

Nicola Jansen van Vuuren – Letaba Herald

“These are extremely tense times for all of us fighting to save Riff Raff.”

Game capture staff peek through a hatch on top of the recovery crate of a mature adult elephant bull (40-45 years old) known as ‘Riff Raff’ as he wakes up. He will be expected to walk into the transport crate after being darted with an immobilising agent during an operation to relocate him to a bigger game park in the province on Thursday, March 22, 2018 in South Africa. (Waldo Swiegers/AP Images for Humane Society International)

Animal campaigners stood their ground in court on Wednesday, April 3, fighting to save the life of a collared bull elephant in Hoedspruit, called Riff Raff. Riff Raff is facing the possibility to be shot for being considered a ‘nuisance’.

JJ van Altena a Humane Society International wildlife consultant and director of Global Supplies pulls on the trunk of a mature adult elephant bull (40-45 years old) known as ‘Riff Raff’ to keep his airway open, while Audrey Delsink, Executive Director of Humane Society International Africa after being darted with an immobilising agent during an operation to relocate him to a bigger game park in the province on Thursday, March 22, 2018 in South Africa. (Waldo Swiegers/AP Images for Humane Society International)

Riff Raff’s habit of trampling fences to gain access to land that has been in his territory for more than half his life, led neighbours to his reserve to apply to have him killed, despite the fact that campaigners from Humane Society International/Africa and Global Supplies had already found him a new home approximately 450 km away.

HOEDSPRUIT HERALD talked to Leozette Roode, Media and Outreach Manager at the Humane Society International/Africa to find out more about the story.

Riff Raff, a mature elephant bulll that is to be relocated to the Olifants River Game Reserve is seen on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at the Makalali Game Reserve, South Africa. (Waldo Swiegers/AP Images for Humane Society International)

However, when permission to relocate Riff Raff was turned down by the Limpopo government, the destruction order would likely have gone ahead, but at the last-minute Acting Deputy Judge President Mr Justice M.G. Phatudi intervened and yesterday granted Riff Raff a temporary stay of execution.

Game capture staff lift a mature adult elephant bull (40-45 years old) known as ‘Riff Raff’ onto a flat-bed truck to transfer him to a transport truck after being darted with an immobilising agent during an operation to relocate him to a bigger game park in the province on Thursday, March 22, 2018 in South Africa. (Waldo Swiegers/AP Images for Humane Society International)

The decision by the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism to reject the plan to relocate the elephant must now be reviewed by the court.

HSI/AFRICA and its partners have been trying to save Riff Raff for two years, including relocating him to a new reserve last year when neighbouring landowners threatened to apply for his destruction.

Despite successfully transporting Riff Raff to the new reserve, he turned around and walked the 40-mile journey back to his original territory, and back in the line of fire.

Audrey Delsink, Wildlife Director of HSI/ Africa, and an elephant behaviourist who has studied Riff Raff and elephants for more than 20 years, said:

“Riff Raff is a magnificent bull elephant who symbolizes the growing problem here in South Africa of lethal solutions being sought to solve humanelephant conflict.

“These are extremely tense times for all of us fighting to save Riff Raff, so we welcome Acting Deputy Judge President Mr Phatudi’s interdict and look forward to the review process.

https://letabaherald.co.za/63388/hoedspruit-justice-riff-raff/

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