Gondwana Game Reserve in the Garden Route is embarking on a project together with the Bloemfontein Zoo and Conservation Global to relocate Thandora, a 27 year old elephant, from captivity to the wild.
Thandora is currently based in the Bloemfontein Zoo and has been in captivity for 23 years. Recently her elephant companion died at the Zoo and it was determined she needs a more suitable home where she could form part of a herd. Gondwana Game Reserve was sought out for this relocation as it provides a suitable herd and environment for Thandora as well as the facilities to support her transition.
The biggest challenge is preparing Thandora for her new free roaming life. Due to her captive environment she has low muscle tone and poor fitness, which could be potentially life threatening if she is released directly onto the 11 000 hectare reserve.
The Gondwana elephant herd can cover up to 8-15 kilometers in a day, which Thandora needs to be physically prepared for. She will embark on a rehabilitation program including both diet and exercise. While in the holding boma, her diet will be adapted from captive based food such as fruits, vegetables, bread and lucern to natural forage.
She will partake in a fitness program where she will be walked daily within the holding boma building up to a target of 10 kilometers a day. We anticipate this transition program to take 6 -8 weeks or as long as is necessary.
“The entire program will be closely monitored by Conservation Global’s research department looking at behavioral and physical elements. The results are hoped to be published and used for future elephant relocations from captivity,” says owner and conservationist Mark Rutherford.
Thandora will be relocated on Tuesday afternoon from the Bloemfontein Zoo to Gondwana Game Reserve. When the elephant is captured, the Gondwana Nature Reserve along the Western Cape’s Garden Route will become her new home.
About 11 000 hectares of reclaimed agricultural land will be the perfect space for the elephant’s safety and life satisfaction. She will even have some friends waiting for her at the Reserve.
If you wish to see Thandora at his new home, please visit us at Gondwana Game Reserve near Mossel Bay, along with a host of other beautiful creatures and lush vegetation. Go here to find out more.