Re-introduced Abu Camp Elephant, Gika, has her first calf in the wild!
Gika, a 25 year old elephant cow was born in Kruger National Park, South Africa. She was orphaned during the 1988 culling operation, which aimed to reduce elephant numbers in the park. Along with 3 other young calves from the same cull, the orphans were moved to Abu Camp.
The Camp has now built up a reputation as a halfway house for disadvantaged elephants, with the goal of rehabilitating traumatised elephants for release back into the wild. Over the years, the elephant programme has sensibly and delicately reintroduced eight African elephants into the Okavango Delta.
In 2003, Nandipa was the first elephant cow introduced to the wild. Nandipa has successfully started up her own herd, now having 3 wild born calves by her side: her first born a young bull, Ntongeni, her second, a female born in 2009 and just a few months ago in April 2013, Nandipa gave birth to her third calf!
As part of this philosophy, in 2011, Gika and her 8 year calf Naya were reintroduce into the Okavango delta, a 14 000 sq km oasis in northern Botswana. Mike Chase who oversees the elephant programme, along with the help of Wild Horizons were requested to assist in Gika and Naya’s release. And, Elephants Without Borders (EWB) was asked to closely monitor their integration. Within five days of Gika’s reintroduction, she and Naya joined up with long-time friend Nandipa. The two large cows and their four offspring have formed their own unique herd and to date, the herd remains tightly together.
For two years, EWB have been closely monitoring them and now the programme’s research division has incorporated a dedicated student studying their movements and stress levels. This study forms part of a larger programme, which has four students studying the ecology of Abu’s elephants.
On the 22nd of August, while following the herd to collect dung samples, our research assistants discovered that Gika had given birth to her first calf in the wild! The gestation period for an African elephant is 22 months, this means she was covered in the first month of her living as a wild elephant. The birth of this newborn has now swelled the ‘wild’ Abu herd’s number to seven animals and the new arrival hails as a milestone in a successful elephant re-introduction programme.
To learn more about EWB: http://www.elephantswithoutborders.org/
If you’d like to support EWB’s projects: http://www.elephantswithoutborders.org/donate.php
Follow us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/elephantswithoutborders