Two male elephants from the Hazyview Elephant Sanctuary in Mpumalanga died over the weekend while being prepared to be transported to the Kleinmond Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) in the Western Cape.
It’s understood that the elephants Kasper and Kitso died while under sedation during the loading process.
Speaking to News24, sanctuary owner Craig Saunders said staff at the property are, “… devastated at the loss of our big bulls.
“We had to move the elephants away because of the stress they were being subjected to from the routine crop spraying performed by low flying helicopters at the adjacent farms in Hazyview. The excessive noise and toxic chemicals being used was seriously affecting them,” he said.
Saunders added that a highly experienced wildlife veterinarian team oversaw the transportation of the bulls that was to take place on Saturday.
“Kasper weighed just over five tons and Kitso 4.5 tons. Kasper, the taller of the two elephants, was approximately 3.3 metres tall. Due to the size of the bulls, they had to be transported via truck to their new location,” said Saunders.
The elephants were 25 and 35 years old, respectively, and had been cared for by the Saunders family and sanctuary staffers for the past 20 years.
An emotional Saunders said: “Elephants can live up to 50 years old, and these two were in the prime of their lives. They were truly magnificent animals and will be sorely missed.”
Eight years ago, Saunders bought a large farm just outside the town of Kleinmond.
“It was my vision all along to relocate these two adult bull elephants from Hazyview to Kleinmond, as their existing habitat in Hazyview had become more and more under social and environmental pressure and the elephants needed more space. We invested years in careful planning, with a key focus on clearing alien species and restoring the property to its original pristine condition,” he added.
“The sudden death of our babies has completely shattered our dreams of having the elephants explore the beauty of the [Western Cape].”
Saunders said that the Sanctuary had over the years, rescued 11 elephants, but with the recent two tragically lost, they were only down to nine elephants which remain their focus. “Our dedicated staff have always been committed to providing the very best care to our animals,” said Saunders.
The Kleinmond wildlife sanctuary is currently home to various general game animals, including zebras, eland, Kudu, Springbok, and a large diversity of water birds.
“Our animals are our life, our pride and joy. What makes the country worth visiting, and the loss of two of our elephant children has truly been a traumatic experience for us all,” said Saunders.