Solutions for People, Animals and Environment
Tales of WellBeing – Issue 3, April 2019
This issue of “Tales of WellBeing” is focused on elephants. Kwatile’s story describes some incidents in the life of an old elephant matriarch in South Africa as well as her role in a project that demonstrated a humane and effective way to manage elephant populations to reduce the impact on habitat and human-elephant conflict. The other item is a book review of a marvelous new book that is aimed squarely at trying to protect the remaining but declining number of elephants in Africa.

Kwatile’s Story

Thirty years ago, the Kruger National Park in South Africa was managing its elephant population at a population around 7,500 elephants via an annual culling program. This stopped in the mid-1990s and Kruger then began to translocate elephants to private conservancies and other provincial and national parks. Initially, the translocations were rather haphazard but then they began to translocate whole “family” groups. In 1996, Kwatile (Xitsonga or Shangaan for “the angry one”) was an older elephant matriarch who was translocated with her group of 8 elephants to the Greater Makalali
Private Game Reserve (GMPGR) to join three other family groups. Kwatile was well-named in that the Makalali rangers and personnel always had to be careful around her as they never knew when she might take offense and, when an elephant matriarch takes offense, any people nearby have to watch out!

The Last Elephants

The Last Elephants (2019) by Don Pinnock & Colin Bell
Penguin Random House South Africa; Cape Town
Reviewed by Andrew Rowan

The human population of Africa is projected to climb from a little more than 1.29 billion in 2018 to over 2.5 billion in 2050. Unlike the rest of the world, where the population has levelled off or is even decreasing, Africa’s population is projected to continue climbing throughout the 21st century. This is the (briefly mentioned) and depressing backdrop to a beautiful volume on elephants organized by authors Don Pinnock (who has written extensively in the general media on wildlife issues) and Colin Bell (the owner of a wildlife tour company that was established, in part, to return value to the communities where the company operated among some of the most stunning wild places in Africa).

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