Media Release: Knysna’s Forest Elephant makes a special appearance just before the holiday season
The Knysna elephant that made her appearance on the 26th of November is a cow most probably between the age of 35 and 50 years.
Hylton Herd who has been monitoring elephant movement in the forest for some time now, said SANParks started recording sightings as early as 1987. “Since April 1987 she has been spotted 124 times and as far apart as Bergplaas in George to Kransbos near Plettenberg Bay. We realised that she moved to the Diepwalle area when the elephant trackers in September started to notice considerable amounts of dung on the forest edge, as well as signs that she was foraging extensively in the Peerbos forest in the same area.”
A timber truck driver spotted the elephant at about 12:30pm on the 26th and alerted SANParks. Herd was close by and with Forest Guard Paulus Makriga, waited patiently for the perfect photo opportunity. Herd said that they nearly lost out when the wind turned and she smelt them, and disappeared into the forest. Patience paid off and about an hour later after moving downwind of the elephant, she made her appearance again.
Herd compared markings on both the left and right ears with those taken previously and it was clear that it was the same cow that was often spotted in 1994, said to be the last remaining elephant after an extensive survey. “The patterns clearly matched on both ears and she has been spotted seven times in the last year,” said Herd.
Regional Manager Mvusy Songelwa said that in their opinion this is the only remaining elephant to roam the Garden Route forests. “However, SANParks continues to verify the population status. Elephant-related observations (sightings, dung, spoor, etc.) are recorded in a structured way and gathering of regular analysis of data and photographic material is maintained.”
She said that following the findings of a study by external researchers using faecal DNA to quantify the population size, SANParks embarked on a parallel study in collaboration with the National Zoological Gardens in Johannesburg.”
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