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Roaming elephant bulls reach Kruger border after 700km journey

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For the past month, a group of 11 elephant bulls have been making their way through Mozambique, Eswatini and – for the past few days – South Africa. On the morning of 10 May, the collared bull in the group, called Trailblazer by non-profit Elephants Alive, reached a southern part of the Kruger National Park boundary. 

Trailblazer and the injured bull photographed on 8 May 2022, near Mjejane in Mpumalanga. Photo: Johan JC Strauss

The bulls have travelled more than 700km so far, starting in southern Mozambique, moving through Eswatini and Mpumalanga towards the southern section of Kruger.

The 11 bulls have now split up, with one known to be injured. Elephants Alive is appealing to the public to spread the word about these elephants, and is hoping to be able to send a vet to tend to the injured one. 

Although they hope that minimal intervention will be necessary, there is a crowdfunding page should the bulls need to be herded by helicopter. 

The wandering bulls have made it to the Kruger boundary, but they now need to be let into the park, which may involve dropping a fence to allow them entry. The group split up a day ago, with Trailblazer looking for an entry point into Kruger, and the other ten spread out over three neighbouring properties.

Elephants Alive said it was encouraged by the fact that Trailblazer had not attempted to break any fences, but this meant a fence would probably have to be dropped to let in the wanderer.

‘It will be the least stressful method to get him across and back to safety, and the environmental departments are currently on the ground. After travelling over 700km to end up at South Africa’s most well-known national park, our hope is that their welfare is prioritized and this journey acknowledged as remarkable.’

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Trailblazer was collared by Mozambique Wildlife Alliance (MWA) on 30 March 2022. Photo: Johan JC Strauss

‘In a world where we have isolated ourselves from each other and where there is such division over boundaries, we still find elephants that connect us despite our differences in history or habits,’ says Dr Michelle Henley, director and co-founder of Elephants Alive. ‘With their tracking devices, we can follow their incredible journeys and in the wake of their movements, new connections are made, and friendships are forged.

‘With bated breath, we have followed every step of a group of 11 young bulls from Mozambique, across the entire length of Eswatini and now into South Africa. To date, their journey is more than 700km in length. Their courage and the cohesive friendships amongst them have kept us spellbound.

‘Although they stole sugar cane in Eswatini en route to South Africa, nobody harmed them. Each country has treated them differently and as they are now encircled by communities who directly compete with them for the same resources, can we as a nation grant them the same measure of freedom and dignity as our neighbourly Swazis or Mozambicans?’

To help these bulls to safety, use the givengain page or Paypal or credit card: https://elephantsalive.org/support/

Follow the Elephants Alive Instagram page for more updates.

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