Gondwana Game Reserve in the Garden Route has embarked 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 was based in the Bloemfontein Zoo and had been in captivity for 23 years. Recently her elephant companion died at the Zoo and it was determined that she needed 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 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 relocation’s from captivity.
Thandora was relocated on Tuesday from the Bloemfontein Zoo to Gondwana Game Reserve.
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