BACK TO HOME GROUND: Two adult elephants. Picture: Thabo Rantlha
Two of the five elephants that escaped from Sandhurst farm in Bray, North West, to neighbouring Botswana boundaries, have been returned to the farm to be hunted.
The department of economic development environment, conservation and tourism said permission was obtained by an import permit from the Eastern Cape issuing authority for the removal of calves to the Elephants of Eden destination in the province to allow hunting for the two adult elephants.
Three elephants have already been hunted following the permit application. The department was in constant communication with the farm owner to implement elephant management measures to avoid future escapes in line with the provisions of the National Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants.
The National Norms and Standards emphasises biodiversity, ecosystems and species conservation through health and conservation principles.
“South Africa, like many other elephant range states is faced with major challenges regarding habitat availability for elephants. It checks whether there is overpopulation on state land or loss of interest to continue keeping them on private land by private landowners,” a statement from the department said.
According to the department spokesperson, Dumisa Seshabela, the province has since 2008 been engaged with various elephant owners regarding elephant management in the province, including the requirements of management plans in line with the National Norms and Standards for the management of elephants in the country.
“The first declined application to hunt elephants on Sandhurst Safaris was in 2009. The landowner instituted an application before the high court of the North West and the court ruled against the department.
“Subsequently, with current regulatory provisions, the landowners at Sandhurst Safaris opted to convert their land to other land use practices that excluded keeping elephants.
“Finding no solace from the department to remove all elephants from the farm due to lack of management plans as required, the landowners went ahead and subdivided the property without informing the department, leaving inadequate space for elephants,” Seshabela said.
Last week the DA in North West called for an independent investigation into what the party believes was illegal killing of elephants at Sandhurst Safaris in Bray, outside Vryburg.
This comes after the provincial economic development and environment department issued five hunting permits for adult elephants at the farm and approved the transfer of four calves to Elephants of Eden resort in the Eastern Cape. The DA said the killing of the jumbos and the transportation of the orphaned calves was done in contravention of environmental regulations.