Wednesday, March 2, 2016

News from Naankuse!!

As gentle as the grey giants of Namibia seem to be, conflict between elephant and farmer is a gloomy reality that Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) is facing head on with the collaboration of the N/a’an ku sê Foundation.
Namibia Breweries Limited, who share our passion for conservation, eagerly sponsored three GPS collars for our gentle giants, with three further collars provided by MET making it possible to collar six tusked titans.

The morning of 20 February saw a helicopter take to the skies over the Kunene region of north western Namibia. This region is not only home to a significant number of free-roaming elephants – but also provides a livelihood for many commercial farmers. A livelihood that some feel may be threatened by an elephant’s monolithic movements.
Spotting the grey giants was not an easy task, with the vast Kunene region stretching seemingly endlessly into the distance. But undaunted the team continued its efforts, with Rudie van Vuuren adding to the eyes in the sky with his Cessna.  And ultimately elephants were spotted, allowing the collaring to begin.  

With female elephants being darted from the air, Marlice van Vuuren was forced to engage in some challenging off-road driving, needing to follow the helicopter into impossibly remote areas as fast as possible in order to assist MET staff with the collaring efforts on the ground. Two days of extreme temperatures, endless searching and constant vigilance resulted in four elephants being collared, providing us with valuable insight into their movement patterns and behavior. This intimate knowledge gives us the tools with which to advise farmers on how best to live side by side with their mammoth neighbors, and ultimately we hope to abet a peaceful and tolerant relationship between landowners and the giants of Namibia.


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