General News - December 2011
Abu Camp - its a girl! - 17 December 2011
Measuring approximately 90cm at the shoulder and weighing about 110kg, the new-born stood on her own feet, wobbling, within 20 minutes. The elephant handlers have named her Warona, the SeTswana name meaning ‘For Us’.
Reaching up to her mother, Warona suckled properly for the first time at 07.00 the next morning, 10 hours after the birth, and now takes short naps of 5-10 minutes. Closely watched over by her doting big brother, Abu Junior, the new-born calf is already showing signs of playfulness. Both Warona and Shireni are doing well, along with the other elephants that form the Abu herd. This new member brings the number of the Abu herd to seven elephants.
Shireni was brought to Abu Camp as part of the original ‘Brat Pack Girls’ of young elephants saved from a culling operation in the ‘Sirheni’ area of Kruger National Park. The father is believed to be a wild bull or Mthondo, one of several elephants successfully reintroduced from the Abu herd into the elephant paradise of the Okavango Delta. Earlier this year, the Camp released Gika and her eight-year-old calf Naya together; they are adapting well to their natural home, roaming and mingling with wild elephants and another previously released elephant, Nandipa, who now has two calves of her own. A total of nine elephants have been released from the Abu herd, under the full support of the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
Abu Camp takes its name from the Arabic word meaning ‘all things to do with elephants’. The birth of Warona ends off a thrilling 2011, which saw the opening of the newly refurbished camp, together with exciting new initiatives within Abu Camp’s elephant programme. The elephant experience is being supervised by San Diego Zoo Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Dr. Mike Chase, together with the support of Wild Horizons, a company with a strong history in high quality elephant interaction activities.
The elephant programme is complemented by the reputation of Wilderness Safaris, Africa’s leading ecotourism operator that now manages the camp through its brand, the Wilderness Collection. The cornerstone of this new initiative involves Elephants Without Borders establishing a field research station in the Abu Concession. This happy moment overlaps with an ambitious new programme which is devoted to the highest standards in elephant welfare, scientific research and meaningful guest experiences.
Warona will provide hours of fascination and enjoyment to visitors of Abu Camp, allowing them the rare opportunity to interact with a family group of elephants in one of Africa’s best wilderness areas: the Okavango Delta.
Sherini to give birth at Abu Camp - 14 December 2011
Sherini, one of the famed elephants of Abu Camp in Botswana, is to give birth to her third calf in mid to end December 2011. Sherini is one of the original six young elephant orphans saved from a cull in the Kruger National Park. Known for her maternal attributes of calmness, patience and loving nature, she has given birth to Pula and Abu, and all at Abu Camp are waiting with bated breath for the latest arrival of the Abu Elephant family.
This wonderful event however means that certain steps have had to be taken at Abu Camp to ensure the safety of both humans and animals, from Sherini herself (to ensure a healthy birth) to the herd as a whole.
Therefore, prior to the birth, and in order to have as little stress as possible on the expectant mother, Sherini will not be ridden from the end of November 2011 until the end of January 2012 – only three guests at a time will be able to ride over this period.
Because elephants tend to become very excited at the birth of a calf, as well as very protective – particularly for the first few days of a calf’s life – no elephant experiences will take place for five days following the birth. After the initial five days, the calf should be stronger and move more confident, allowing guests to participate in our elephant activities. We believe the arrival of a new born calf will provide guests with an exciting and personal window into the life of a family herd of pachyderms. Of course the activity is immeasurably enhanced as the focus of the herd – and the guests – is all on the newest member of the Abu family. As with all our elephant safari activities, the safety of the herd and our guests during this exciting time takes precedence.
For the first few days while the calf “finds its legs,” the elephants will remain close to camp and guests will be able to participate fully in all the other elephant activities in camp – game drives, mokoro excursions, the Star Bed and more – aside from the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching the herd interact with the days-old calf – something only a privileged few get to witness.
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