At the beginning of last week, we received a report from a farmer in Marondera that 2 female elephants were on her farm eating her barley crop. We heard that National Parks intended to shoot the elephants before they injured someone so we asked them to please give us a chance to try and relocate them.
They agreed to wait a couple of days so we set about trying to organise the relocation.
Keith Dutlow and Lisa Marabini of AWARE Trust very kindly offered to dart the elephants, using their own tranquiliser free of charge. They also offered a donation of USD1 000 towards the costs.
The next problem was to decide where to take the elephants and we asked Hamish Rudland, who already has 13 elephants in the Umfurudzi, if we could take them there. He agreed and offered us a 30 ton truck to move the elephants.We also needed a high-up crane to load the elephant crates and the elephants and a dangler trailer to facilitate the loading.
We approached a local crane hire company to ask for a quote to hire their crane. They estimated the cost at around USD4 000 and wanted the money up front. This was a major problem for us because we had intended to do the relocation and then put out an appeal for the funds afterwards.
We explained the situation to them but they wouldn't budge which greatly disappointed us. National Parks have their own relocation unit but it seems they only use it to move animals which are to be exported. We managed to find a dangler trailer but it was only available on Tuesday this week.
We were then informed by Hamish Rudland that he had changed his mind about taking the elephants at Umfurudzi because he didn't want these 2 wild elephants mixing with his domesticated ones. We now had the added problem of a truck to move the elephants. Alro Shipping came forward and offered us a truck free of charge.
We are extremely grateful to Alro who have often come forward to help us, never asking for any payment. A big thank you to Riley Travers of Imire who spent 4 days continuously tracking an monitoring the elephants. We asked Riley to appeal to Marondera National Parks to give us until Tuesday this week to relocate the elephants.
They weren't keen and seemed desperate to shoot them. In view of all the problems we were facing, we felt the best option would be to fire shots into the air to try and force the elephants to go back to the North, where they came from but National Parks refused to do this, stating that it would be too dangerous.
Sadly, we heard yesterday that the elephants had moved to within 2 km of Marondera town and National Parks shot them, fearing that they would hurt someone. We are very disappointed in National Parks and in certain Zimbabwean companies who put money before the welfare of our wildlife. We have now lost 2 young elephants who had their whole lives ahead of them.
Source: Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (Harare)