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More battles for the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe

We featured Sharon Pincott’s conservation work with the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe in our March 2011 magazine. Sharon recently released a second book about her ongoing work, titled Battle for the President’s Elephants. Her courageous battles are ongoing. She is currently wrestling against mining proposals within the key home-range of the Presidential Elephants.

Add to that her fight to see no female elephants on approved sport-hunting quotas, in surrounding hunting areas. This combined with some of the worst water levels that Sharon has seen; 2012 proving to be an awful drought year for the wildlife in Hwange. And most heart-wrenching of all, right now, Presidential Elephants continue to suffer horrific snare wounds.

Bitman is a 13 year old male elephant in the ‘B’ Presidential family. Earlier this week Sharon called for a darter to assist Bitman, who had been seen wandering with a horribly grotesque snare wound on his front right leg. The photograph emphasizes the shocking scenario. It is one seen all too often in the course of Sharon’s daily patrols.

Presidential Elephants, Zimbabwe

Snare wound: this week Sharon was called to dart and de-snare Bitman, a 13-year-old male elephant. The removal was successful and Sharon was unable to find him this week, which could be a sign that he is able to walk a bit better now.
© Sharon Pincott

Working full-time on a completely voluntary basis for the past 11 years, in addition to remaining primarily self-funded, financial help is now needed, initially to source an additional dart gun and drugs as well as adequate diesel to enable more wide-spread vehicle patrols and monitoring.

If you can help, please contact Sharon via her website.  Select the ‘contact’ tab on the home page.

Sharon Pincott

Sharon Pincott

To acquaint yourself with this incredibly unique clan of wild African elephants – some of whom Sharon has a remarkably intimate relationship with – and to better understand some of her ongoing challenges, purchase a copy of Battle for the President’s Elephants from bookshops throughout South Africa, and internationally from sites like and also (which offers free world-wide delivery). Your own voice may be needed in the future to help conserve these gentle giants of the Hwange veld, so go ahead and enlighten yourself today. These long-suffering elephants will be most grateful.

Front cover: Battle for the President’s Elephants

Back cover: Battle for the President’s Elephants
















Africa Geographic Editorial

We're the Africa Geographic editorial team – a diverse set of editors, designers and social media natives, all united by our passion for this addictive continent.

  • Beth

    oh my god, that is awful. I have read Sharon Pincott’s latest book and it is definitely worth a read. I highly recommend it. I also got to watch the related documentary (All the president’s elephants) on her work and awesomely and unbelievably intimate relationship with these wild giants of Hwange at the Durban film festival. wow! Keep an eye out for it on television. How awful that the poaching and snaring battles continue. It features in her books almost from day 1, and it is there, not as gruesomely as this, in the documentary too. We should all learn something from this sort of unrewarded dedication although I can see that the elephants themselves are the biggest reward. Dont give up yet Sharon.

  • Charlie Paxton

    Great effort hope she keeps up the good work

  • PJ

    Thanks for spreading the word as wildlife conservationists like this need all of the help they can get. The human race sure has alot to answer for. That’s Sharon Pincott KISSING a wild Hwange elephant?? Now that is an incredible bond in a place as vast and unfenced as that great Zimbabwean wilderness is. I can only encourage her on.

  • Jerry van Wyk Louw

    Amazing & awful at the same time. Working in this sort of contrasting environment must really knock you for six over time. Sending Sharon Pincott in Hwange strength to keep at it.

  • Fran

    For the past decade few people other than Sharon Pincott – an amazing Australian woman – have done anything substantial for the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe, even though they have existed since 1990. She has battled galantly, mostly alone. Let’s change this now.

    • Beth

      Remember Sharon somehow convinced a ministry to convince Robert Mugabe to reaffirm the 21 year old Presidential Decree last year (2011), that was some mean feat! When you read her books you know how much they have been through. She was so alone not only regaining their broken trust over the worst years in Zimbabwe’s history but successfully taking it all to another incredible level as this kissing photograph shows.

  • J. Hammond

    Thank goodness there are well trained people in the Zimbabwean bush who are qualified to dart, to respond to Sharon’s calls. (You will read more about this in Sharon’s books.)

  • Pat

    in another life this lady was a top level IT person in the bustling corporate world. Imagine that! Some things are meant to be, some really do find their calling. Read her first book too, The Elephants & I. So inspiring.

  • Shaynie

    The Zimbabwean newspaper describes this book of Sharon’s as “a riveting and amusing read”. There’s some tragedy in there too of course. Do yourself a favour and buy yourself a copy. Mine is being read again and again.

  • Jennifer

    wow even if you’re not a facebook user, take the Africa Geo Facebook link in the righthand column to read all of the many comments there. Sharon Pincott we salute your relentless efforts over all of these most trying of years in Zimbabwe and Hwange.

    • Jen

      Over 550 people sharing this so far from AfricaGeo’s Facebook page, well done! reaching far and wide.

      • Wildfreak

        Many more f ‘shares’ now I see, this has to be reaching 10s of 1000s of people. But will we all react as we should? Or will we all just go away and have another cup of tea…………… Sharon you are an inspiration to me and to many. Give Willa another one of your kisses from me, she’s so beautiful. (In Zimbabwe? Really? This can happen IN ZIMBABWE??????????? The snaring I can imagine but the other? Amazing yes?)

  • Shaynie

    From the looks of it, there are many people who can see the difference Sharon Pincott has made to the lives of the Elephants of Zimbabwe, not just the Presidential herd. I wonder how many realize that she is self funded? Imagine if everybody who click ‘like’ donated just US10.00 towards these gentile giants of Africa. Bitman was lucky in that he was found, many are not.

    • A&B Tyson

      It will eclipse 1,000 people “sharing” this, mostly on Afgeo’s facebook page, with how many others? Let’s be highly conservative and say 30 people each share. That’s 30,000 more informed people out there now and a lot more of Sharon’s informative books in households. Securing conservation funds is a difficult thing anywhere in the world especially when you are a lone wolf, no matter what your outstanding achievements. Being in Zimbabwe probably does not help. Sharon is doing it right to blaze on ahead with her own resources, not many would succeed at doing that. I tip my hat and encourage her on to keep up the thankless behind-the-scenes worry and work.

      • Kay

        Not such a “lone wolf” perhaps. The bush and even city times with her supportive friends provide some of the most amusing stories in her book. Unputdownable giggles! The freedom of being her “own wolf” has this benefit so I think it really is a good thing in some ways.

  • Miya

    An evocative quote from Sharon Pincott’s BATTLE FOR THE PRESIDENT’S ELEPHANTS: “When I shared the photo of me kissing Willa, the one that adorns the back cover of this book, with my hippo-friend Karen, she wept. She wept because she understands it all, because to people like her it isn’t just a photo. It’s a whole, telling, story in itself.” So much regained trust, so much dedication, so much effort, so much care, so much self-sacrifice, and oh so much tragedy…….

    • Kayla & Garry

      exceptionally beautiful, poignant photograph indeed – that all of the world should see. [btw, you
      left out ‘so much absurdity’ – but then that’s part and parcel of the crazy ‘tragedy’
      I guess. There is positively far too much of that] Our blessings to Sharon Pincott and her special elephant friends in Hwange.

    • P

      Here is another quote that will stay with you long after you turn the last page of this book – “one person can indeed make a difference. You just have to dig your heels in, and go for it.” ………….That, we should all remember.

    • K Johnson

      There’s a great deal of delightful humour throughout this book, perhaps the only way this resilient conservationist can get through it all. Read it more than once and read the words more slowly second time through to fully appreciate her ‘tell it like it is’ style, with superbly vivid bush descriptions but also harsh facts of some incomprehensible actions and personalities. Shame that an inane few could taint the Hwange area like this. If you believe in Kismit all will be right with the world in that corner of paradise one day soon. Don’t give up!

    • Eddie

      I am raring to visit these unbelievable elephants, to help support the area – though here is another astute quote from this immensely enjoyable book which is worth sharing:- “I knew that those who didn’t properly understand Presidential Elephant behaviour, or who might be tempted to push rules and boundaries in pursuit of a bigger tip, could get themselves and others into a lot of trouble…. I knew that if anyone tried to emulate me, without adequate knowledge, they could bring about the serious injury, or death, of a human being, a majestic elephant, or both. And that would be unbearable. It’s something that I remain greatly concerned about to this day.” ……. Hear, hear! I would not want to be landed with a safari guide who does things, only trying for a bigger tip with a bit of showing off……. “Support those who bother to learn something real about them, and who keep up-to-date with their lives.” ……. Great advice, definitely no room for egos and pretence here, far too much at stake. ……………Don’t try this at home!

  • Stu John

    I have just finished reading this book of Sharon Pincott’s since first reading this informative blog, thankyou. How she continues to cope with the terrible snaring and the preposterous and the greedy self-interest of others there is quite beyond me. Incredibly through it all she retains her lively sense of humour and actually makes you laugh outloud. It is a great book and you will know who to avoid in Hwange when you add visiting these forgiving elephants to your bucket list. Full credit to this lady for them being what they are today, through too much terrible over the past years. Looking at the Africa Geographic advert to my right, I repeat their words for this book: ‘inspiring, intriguing and addictive’.

  • Bryan and Francie

    I have just
    read in the excellent “Battle for the President’s Elephants” about one-quarter
    of one of Sharon’s favourite elephant families snared. Think about that will
    you. Twenty-five percent of one elephant family, snared, in the past decade! It is such an insight
    to know that, and imagine how much is not known about the unknown families.
    This sort of information that a general safari guide does not know or does not
    care about or does not bother to impart is invaluable. There is much of it in
    this fine book. The constant grief of known snared ones must take its toll though
    since despite it sounding like some there regard them this way, these particular
    ellies are very clearly not “just one of the Big 5”. Only those inflicted by
    the big green monster, and ignorance no less, would say so. I know where my
    loyalties will lie when I plan my visit to these alluring creatures in Hwange but I wonder after reading
    who other than Sharon has made an effort to learn anything much about them and
    their lives and their battles, putting their own egos aside. It must be a constant struggle but I hope against
    hope she does not give up. (I wish we could do more than just words.)

  • Jimmy Hunt

    When we visited this area they call the Hwange Estate in 2005 it was dreadful, waterholes in a mess, elephants running from our safari vehicle, gunshots at night. What a turnaround! Except for the snaring which sounds like it has long been a big problem. But now Sharon Pincott is kissing these wild elephants? That is an incredible achievement and an incredible reaction from these elephants to the one who is no doubt their own special guardian angel for sure. I salute her

    • SWatts

      We have just spent the holidays there and waterholes have been scooped for depth, by Sharon and her own contacts no less, and still the operators making the money do not bother with enough water on that land. Something has to change in that area as it is heartbreaking to see. Sadly you can not kiss away others’ ineffectiveness and indifference (though being able to do this to a wild jumbo is sure staggering). The area is in urgent need of others with the same foresight and care to bring it back to what it was in the 90s.

      • Preston

        Ive never heard truer words. I am surprised these elephants still exist in any valuable form at all. Without Sharon Pincott having been there I am certain they would not and it is past time for operators, lodges and wildlife authorities there to start showing their worth since we hear all the time now how tourists are returning to Zim. Time to stop taking taking taking and giving so little back? This cant go on forever. They try to silence this women for saying such things outloud but they cant get rid of all of us. After reading her book Im pleasantly surprised she is still there struggling on for Africa’s wildlife. A legend!!

  • Al Dray

    Have now
    read Sharon Pincott’s book, Battle for the President’s Elephants – thank goodness
    there are at least some wise people in that Hwange area, and in government, who support this invaluable wildlife
    conservation work and help Sharon and these exceptional wild elephants whenever
    they can. To the rest – I boo and hiss. Mostly I applaud this intrepid

  • Savanna D.

    We have recently heard from Sharon about a young elephant dead, stuck in a neglected muddy waterhole, about a new wave of poacher gunfire on the boundary of the national park, about an elephant with its face hacked off fueling the evil ivory trade, about more than one well-known elephant whose whereabouts are causing her great concern. Talk about ‘more battles for the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’. Will it never stop? How much more nuturing will once again be needed now to regain the extraordinary trust evident in the very intimate human/elephant interaction photo shown here? We wish her some peace and continued success with her well-known unparalleled resolve, and success to all those others actively involved too. (She also mentioned an enjoyable day recently spent inside Hwange National Park main camp with friends – where there were waterholes with much better water levels and plenty of wildlife to be enjoyed. So it must be much better in some places there than in others.) Back on the presidential elephant land, “don’t let the turkeys get you down” Sharon – since it sounds like there are sadly still a few of those turkeys around who seem to thrive on trying to cause instability and negative intrusion. (One has to wonder why?)

  • Derrick Drager

    Sharon Pincott deserves a medal. (Loved both of her books)

    • Carrie Jane

      or at least a crate of Amarula!! Loved her books too and those who read them will understand.
      A quote from another book comes to mind, “The best is bought only at the cost of great pain.”

      • Janine

        THE BEST IS BOUGHT ONLY AT THE COST OF GREAT PAIN ………… how true is that in Sharon’s world……..

  • Janice D.

    So inspiring! I just finished reading this and her previous book, Elephants and I. They are tender and informative, sad and funny, and really eye opening. It seems a loyal conservationist’s dream is also nightmarish at least in Zimbabwe. If you would like to be inspired to not only spend more time with amazing wild animals but also be instrumental in helping to protect and save them then these are the books for you.Thankyou for making us aware of this. The books live up to the glowing reviews and delivery was quick as a flash. Now to find the money for an airfare to Hwange as she also writes about the importance of tourists.

  • Jan and Toly

    We had the great pleasure of meeting Sharon Pincott in a very hot Hwange recently. Few people leave a deep and lasting positive impression but she is one of them. From her charming, modest abode at Miombo camp with staggering numbers of bucks around she inspired and intrigued us. Popping into Ganda lodge for a look it was black, or at least grey!, with the presidential elephants of zimbabwe. These elephants love this smiling woman! It was a great privilege to share her world if only briefly. What a fantastic job she is doing and long may it continue for the sake of Hwange’s very special herd. Things were going awry even while we spoke but her determined demeanour shone through. (Her books are fantastic btw.)

  • shaynie
  • Shaynie

    Check out Sharons facebook page

  • Carol

    I’m almost finished reading your book ‘Battle for the President’s Elephants’ and can’t tell you how special it is to read of someone making such a huge difference in the lives of these majestic gentle giants – the photo on the back page brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for your courage and may you keep striving to save these beautiful creatures – please don’t give up!

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