WATCH | Adventure with the ellies: Celebrating World Elephant Day

One of the big five animals, the elephant, is being celebrated this month.

Animal protection organisation Adventures with Elephants hosted an annual walk with elephants in Bela Bela, Limpopo on Monday to celebrate World Elephant Day.

The event, supported by Rory Hensman Conservation and Research Unit (RHCRU), was to raise funds for an elephant DNA database as well as raise awareness about the significant contribution the elephants make towards various research projects.

Elephant Day

World Elephant Day was launched in 2012 to shine a light on the conservation of Asian and African elephants.

Its aim, among other things, is to improve enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory and reintroduce captive elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries.

Adventures with Elephants

The organisation was started by Rory Hensman on his family farm in Zimbabwe in 1988 before moving to South Africa in 2003.

Since then, more than 30 elephants have been rescued and trained for educational purposes in the name of conservation. The organisation has also loved and cared for countless other animals like warthogs, kudu, and steenbok to name but a few.

Today they care for seven elephants, three females, two males and their two calves, Bela and Zambezi.

Personal and educational hands-on interaction with the elephants means visitors can learn everything about these animals, from their behaviour to ecology and conservation.

Collecting DNA database

RHCRU collaborates with local and international universities and zoos to promote their benefits to human society as well as wildlife and conservation efforts, through honest and bilateral co-operation with elephants.

The research unit believes that elephants, compared to dogs, could help wildlife and humanity by detecting diseases such as foot and mouth disease, checking areas suspected to have landmines as well as to detect cancer and assist with catching poachers.

Research fields

One of the fields RHCRU focuses on is bio-detection. This involves the ele­phant’s incredible sensory abilities, such as their hearing and smell.

An elephant’s sense of smell is about 14 times better than that of a dog.

Another research field the unit focuses on is elephant anatomy and contraception, also covering finer points like the effect of food types, hunger and elephant population pressure on elephant behaviour.

Further research is carried out regarding the benefits and detrimental effects of elephants on the environments they inhabit.