Category: conservation

Where did it all begin

It was during the long nights with Thandora that my mindwould  drift and search for the answers that plagued the captive elephant tourism industry of today. The attraction of being able to stand right beside these huge magnificent beasts, feed and interact with them, makes one oblivious to any doubt of them being unhappy. Having witnessed tens of thousands of tourists visiting captive elephants I learned that these visitors invariably believed what they were told. Some of what they are told is the truth and then there is a lot that is not true.

And what are the tourists told?

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wild animal
Chi cerca trova
Blog 3

Il progetto della riserva di Shongweni era nato come un qualcosa di secondario a cui sia io che Greg ci eravamo ripromessi di dedicare solo un’ora al giorno per eventuali telefonate, sviluppi, mail da scrivere, ma eravamo entrambi d’accordo che non avrebbe rappresentato la nostra priorità.

Tutti bei propositi che sono diventati aria non appena ci siamo piacevolmente scontrati con la realtà di un Inkosi che ora vuole proclamare la sua terra riserva naturale, la realtà della vecchia gestione che a fine giugno 2018 avrebbe terminato il contratto, la realtà delle 10/15 telefonate al giorno con persone di diversi dipartimenti che cercavamo di approcciare per rinforzare il progetto con collaborazioni strategiche. Ormai questo progetto ci stava assorbendo pensieri, energie e tempo.

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Conserving biodiversity
Destinazione finale: conservare la biodiversità
Blog 1

Prendendo un po’ di coraggio e partendo dal presupposto che sono una persona che non ama parlare sé, ma piuttosto mi piace e riesce più semplice ascoltare, ho deciso di fare qualcosa che mai avrei pensato di fare: scrivere un blog. Forse proprio il fatto che mi riesce così facile osservare e ascoltare chi o cosa è intorno a me, mi consente di fare per così dire da ricettore verso tutto ciò che mi succede vicino e di conseguenza mi regala un bagaglio inestimabile di conoscenze e informazioni. E allora a questo punto ho deciso di condividerle con voi tutte queste osservazioni e informazioni. Il blog non tratterà di me, ma userò la mia esperienza per trattare un tema a me molto caro e non sempre compreso fino in fondo.

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elephant in captivity
A Journey with Elephants by Greg Vogt – Conservation Guardians
Thandora – Final Chapter

Anthropomorphism

Readers of this blog will probably ask 100 questions and offer as many possible answers as to why the girls did not accept Thandora.

During my hours with her in the reserve I challenged every scenario possible. All I can say is that Thandora was happy on her own. The day after the famous meeting described in videos and pictures in the previous blog, we meandered to a dam I called our ‘secret dam’. The water was clear and for some reason there were no traces of elephant spoor at this Dam. I assumed the other elephants did not come to this dam very often for whatever reason.

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conservation guardians
A Journey with Elephants by Greg Vogt – Conservation Guardians
Thandora – Part 10

Have you ever had that feeling where you wish for something but know it will not happen? I was wishing that Thandora would connect with the girls but knew deep down it would not happen. It was almost as if Thandora had told my deeper conscious that she was not interested. The concept of her living in a reserve, sustaining herself just did not fit with her.

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captive elephant release
A Journey with Elephants by Greg Vogt – Conservation Guardians
Thandora – Part 9

Our quest was to get her to interact and link up with Bonnie and Thembile, two elephants we released from captivity a few years earlier (mentioned in a previous blog post). The brief encounters Thandora had with the two girls were always in the evening, and were unpleasant. The two girls would attack her, striking her with their tusks and she would flee. During these times I would feel so helpless, when I eventually caught up with her she would come close to the vehicle for protection. These encounters destroyed me emotionally. There are no words to describe her state after these encounters, especially when her distress was tangible with her tremors vibrating through the vehicle as she leaned closer to the vehicle than ever before.

 

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elephant release
A Journey with Elephants by Greg Vogt – Conservation Guardians
Thandora – Part 8

Standing in the exact same position I was in when I released Bonnie and Thembile, I waited as Thandora tentatively approached the invisible line that separated her holding-boma space from 10 000 hectares of reserve. The gate was open and all she had to do was walk out, but the moment was to big for her and she was clearly not happy about taking this next step.

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A Journey with Elephants by Greg Vogt – Conservation Guardians
Thandora – part 7

Thandora does not like elephants

Bully lost interest in Thandora after 15 minutes of circling the Boma. Thandora remained motionless during the entire Bully visit and my daughter was most distressed. She simply said to me in her childlike honesty that Thandora did not like elephants. Thandora seemed to be a human in an elephants skin.

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A Journey with Elephants by Greg Vogt – Conservation Guardians
Thandora – part 6

Reserve Life

The holding Boma is situated a few kilometres from the main lodges and within the 11 000 hectare reserve where Thandora was to be released. At this stage I was with Thandora 24/7, and with life returning to normal on the reserve, my support group had whittled down to two reserve staff who relieved me when I needed a break.  My team had whittled away slowly, with the behavioural specialists having left, leaving me alone with her. It was important to have consistency in the staff working with her as we built up to the release date.

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