Life Skills For Elephants Behaving Badly

A novel wildlife initiative looks at new ways to rehabilitate and calm animals traumatised by culling, writes Claire Keeton

A scrawny man sits on his haunches in the bush facing eight elephants who tower over him, greeting him with rumblings and flapping ears.

One of them flicks his foot towards him. That means the man should go away. Not budging, Jock McMillan does the same with his foot at the restless young male, flanked by two others, who yields a foot or two to him.

Then this elephant turns his attention to the bakkie where we sit next to bags of feed, pellets provided during the dry season to supplement the elephants' diet and reduce their impact on the reserve.

Quietly, McMillan tells him to leave us alone and he again backs away.

Members of this herd on a private reserve in Limpopo listen to McMillan - usually. But they are not tame.

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Christelle Pretorius