Getting up close with the wildlife is something that not many guests get the opportunity to do. We recently hosted a family who had sponsored a new collar for one of the elephants on the reserve, and they came to stay at the lodge to be part of the process of fitting it.
It was an icy morning, but the excitement of what lay ahead kept us all enthusiastic as we quickly had a hot cup of coffee. We had a fairly long drive to meet with Izzy, a Masters student in charge of the elephant research, and the helicopter pilot and Vet. We were all briefed on the procedure, how the drug would be administered, what to expect and a brief outline of the purpose of the collar in the research process.
As Izzy walked us through this, the vet and pilot took off to go search for a viable subject. This was actually a very quick process, and the elephant was darted from the air, while we made our way in on the vehicle. Everything went according to plan, and the elephant went down safely.
The vets and assistants all moved in quickly to start the process of fitting the collar. While this was happening, we were shown some interesting points of the elephants, as well as allowed to feel things like the soft skin behind the ears, and the very coarse hair that covers the elephant.
We posed for some images with the beautiful creature, and then headed back to the game viewer. The Vet administered the antidote, and within a couple of minutes the elephant was back up on its feet and headed off.
We watched for while as she was reunited with her heard and her young family. Over another warm coffee all the guests were given an opportunity to get much more information on her studies and variuos observations she has made in her research.