Welgevonden Management Collar Large Elephant Bull

During the early morning hours of the 6th of June, elephant monitor, Matthew Thorp, was out searching for yet another elephant to collar. This time however, he was looking for the largest bull on the Reserve.

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Welgevonden Game Reserve has, up until now, prioritized collaring female elephants that are key members within their herd. As this select individual represents the movement patterns of the entire herd, a single collar is capable of providing adequate movement data for each individual within that specific herd.

Thanks to the generosity of a number of influential Welgevonden Members, management have recently been able to re-collar all but one of these key individuals. With movement data being successfully collected on the majority of the elephant herds, management can now focus on collaring mature elephant bulls within the Reserve.

The first elephant bull chosen for collaring is the largest, most mature bull in the Reserve. It is speculated that this individual is the most dominant bull within the population and should therefore go into musth (a periodic increase in the reproductive hormones of bull elephants, classically linked to increased levels of aggression) for the longest period of time.

Collaring this elephant (B03) will allow for a close evaluation of his movement patterns and an improved understanding of his home range. In addition, we will also be able to determine areas of refugia and how this large bull interacts with surrounding manmade infrastructure such as roads, lodges and fences etc.

What’s more is that these data accumulated from the bull’s collar can be analysed side by side with that of the collars fitted to the cows within their herds, creating an understanding of the frequency of herd-bull interactions, the time span of these interactions as well as whether certain herds are favoured over others.

Welgevonden would like to thank Son Safaris, a Christian charity whose mission is to understand God through His creation while on safari in Africa, for funding the entire procedure! To find out more about the charity, click here.

“B03 is the first of hopefully 6-8 bulls we aim to collar with the idea being that we collar up to 2 bulls from each of the following three age categories: upper age limit (40+), middle aged (25-30), and young herd bulls that still frequently move around with the collared cows.

These collars form an integral part in gaining a better understanding of how the Welgevonden elephants interact within the Reserve, hopefully allowing for better management in the future.”

-Matthew Thorp, Welgevonden Elephant Monitor

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Early morning risers being briefed on the procedure

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Founder of Son Safaris, Fledge Fiamingo, listening intently to the morning’s briefing

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