"The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?” – David Attenborough
World Elephant Day is the perfect time to find out more about these amazing animals and what we can do to preserve and protect them. The Rory Hensman Elephant Research and Conservation Unit (RHCRU) will be hosting the second annual Walk with Elephants, for Elephants at Adventures with Elephants on the 11th August. Our goal is to raise funds for an elephant DNA database.
While invited guests will be joining us at the event, you can make a contribution, and for only R 600, sponsor a DNA test for one elephant. Of course you can join the walk online via Facebook.
WHY IS A DNA DATABASE IMPORTANT?
Approximately 150 000 African elephants have been lost in the last decade. Numbers continue to decline in the face of poaching, human-elephant conflict and inbreeding. We are creating a DNA database of the South African elephant population to safeguard the future of the species. Firstly, A DNA database is important for monitoring inbreeding and the predisposition of disease. Secondly, being able to link ivory to specific elephants in specific areas assists authorities in identifying poaching hotspots.
THE PROJECT TEAM
The Rory Hensman Conservation and Research Unit (RHCRU) is partnering with the National Zoological Gardens Pretoria and the Forensic Sciences Institute of North Carolina State University.
HOW IS THE DNA OBTAINED?
A dart gun will be used to obtain skin samples, so the animals do not need to be anesthetized. The dart is specially made to collect a small piece of skin before falling to the ground.
RUNNING ORDER OF THE EVENT:
- 8h00 for 8h30 Arrivals, Tea & coffee
- 8h45 Welcome by RHCRU ambassador, Ntokozo Mbuli.
- 9h00 Safety briefing, and short history on AWE & RHCRU.
- 9h15 Meet the elephants.
- 10h00 Walk begins.
- 10h30 First presentation by Prof Andre Ganswindt, from Onderstepoort, about elephant dung endocrinology.
- 11h00 Second presentation by Dr Katharina Von Durckheim, from Stellenbosch University, about scent detection.
- 12h00 Third presentation by Prof. Garry Osthoff, from the University of the Free State, regarding the elephant milk formula.
- 13h00 Finger lunch, interviews, questions and watch the elephants swimming / drinking in the dam back at the meet and greet area.