Nine elephants were shot dead in the last month in the area between Phalaborwa and Gravelotte. This sparked outrage among residents of the areas around the Kruger National Park, who have accused the Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism department (LEDET) of not exhausting all alternatives to the killing of these animals. One long-time resident of Phalaborwa, Barbara Boshoff, said that four elephants were shot by LEDET on their property in Silonque on the outskirts of town.
She has lived in town for 22 years and said that these elephants regularly come through their property from the Kruger, and head to a drinking hole on the other side. Every year during Maroela season they make their appearance as well and have become somewhat welcome guests to the locals. These four elephants were shot in the first week of September.
“In April these four bulls came through our property and spent the whole day eating Maroela fruit. It was quite comical as we all know what the fruit does to these animals. I remember saying to my husband that these boys will have some explaining to do when they get back home after their boys day out,” she said with a chuckle. “They don’t bother us and they have been coming here for years, following the same path, and each time, they follow the same path back to the Kruger. Why was it necessary to kill them? I could have organized a helicopter literally within a few minutes to chase them back if that was the problem. This is so sad.”
A week prior to the shooting of these four bulls, two other elephants were shot in Molengraaf Street. This is the same street where an elephant bull was filmed attempting to drink water from a swimming pool at one of the homes. (check out that video on our Facebook page). The residents in these streets were just as outraged because according to them there must have been other alternatives. In fact, they were moved by helicopter and ground crew in the past.
Two weeks ago another elephant was shot and killed in the Lulekani area just outside Phalaborwa. In most instances the community is granted permission, or in fact encouraged to cut up the carcass and distribute the meat to everyone in the area.
Last week, two more elephants were shot dead by a hunter on a private farm in the Selati Ruins area. It is alleged that the owner of the farm had called a professional hunter (PH) to shoot the elephants after they entered his property. A source alleged that the PH called another hunter to come and shoot the animals, and that this hunter allegedly brought one of his clients along with him. This has not yet been confirmed.
On Thursday, the 23rd of September, a 50-year old field guide on the Ndzalama Game Reserve near Gravelotte was trampled to death by an herd of agitated elephants whilst reportedly assisting a Safari group whose vehicle had become stuck somewhere on the property.
Bulletin contacted LEDET to find out why the animals were shot, whether other alternatives could have been employed, and if any permits had been issued to anyone, for the shooting of these animals. At the time of going to print we had received no response.
This is a developing story.