Rossmund problem elephant relocated, named Apollo by Shiloh Jolie-Pitt (Namibia)

Apr 22, 2020 | News

By The Namibia Economist

The Jolie-Pitt family’s involvement with local conservation group, N/a’an ku sê, marked another milestone this past weekend when a mature bull elephant was relocated from Rossmund near Swakopmund to the Zannier Reserve some 50 km east of Windhoek.

The relocation cost was covered by the Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary in partnership with the N/a’an ku sê Foundation. The elephant was christened Apollo by film stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s biological child, Shiloh.

N/a’an ku sê Executive Director, Marlice van Vuuren, thanked Shiloh and her wildlife sanctuary’s contribution to ensure that the elephant did not meet the fate of most animals that have become a nuisance, i.e. being shot.

The elephant, a bull of unknown origin and estimated to be approximately 25 years old, appeared in the Swakopmund area in December 2019. He displayed some injuries and signs of undernourishment at the time.

The Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Forestry (METF) monitored the elephant and, under the guidance of ministry veterinarian, Dr Janine Sharpe, successfully fitted him with a GPS collar in January 2020. Closer examination during the collaring revealed that the elephant had gained weight and his injuries had healed well.

But the elephant turned into a nuisance as it started raiding private gardens in the Rossmund Golf Estate. “There has been a fear it might cause threats to human life in the area. Therefore the ministry declared the animal a problem animal. N/a’an ku sê has been identified as a suitable property where this animal can be looked after,” said Mr Colgar Sikopo, the Director of Parks and Wildlife in the ministry.

Instead of shooting the problem elephant, the N/a’an ku sê’ 7500 hectare Zannier Reserve was identified as an ideal new home for the stray animal.

On Saturday, 18 April Mr Sikopo and Dr Sharpe executed the relocation. Wildlife veterinarian, Dr Ulf Tubbesing, assisted by N/a’an ku sê veterinarian, D. Maaike De Schepper, was in charge of the relocation process.

Darted and sedated from a helicopter, the elephant was lifted by crane onto a 4×4 truck just to get it out of the riverbed and onto a container truck for the 6-hour trip to Windhoek.

On arrival, the animal was released in a small soft-release boma to get accustomed to the electric fence but less than 48 hours later, it has settled in so well that it was released into reserve.

N/a’an ku sê Chief Executive, Dr Rudie van Vuuren expressed his appreciation to the ministry and the police for the efficiency with which the operation was carried out. The Namibian Police escorted the elephant while in transit from Swakopmund to Windhoek.

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