The Abu Herd continues to grow with the arrival of another male elephant calf, born to Paseka in the early hours of Friday, 27 April 2018 – a mere three months after Lorato gave birth to Motlotlo in January 2018. The calf has been named Shamiso, which means ‘Surprise’ in Shona.
“Whilst we had our suspicions that Paseka was pregnant, we were not sure when she had conceived and were therefore delighted to be greeted with this wonderful miracle on Friday morning, after lots of trumpeting and noise in the boma at about 4:30am”, said Ipeleng Pheto, Abu Camp General Manager. “Both mother and baby are doing well, and Shamiso has been welcomed into the Herd”.
Paseka, meaning ‘Easter’ in Setswana, was named for the time of year that she was found – in April 2009, Abandoned by a wild herd after being attacked by hyaenas in the Okavango Delta, she took refuge in the generator room at Seba Camp which is situated in the Abu Concession. She was then brought to Abu Camp where her wounds were treated and Sirheni, who was lactating at the time, duly adopted her into the Abu Herd.
Abu Camp guests now have a unique and wonderful opportunity to meet both Motlotlo and Shamiso during two set and carefully-controlled periods of elephant interaction each day. These interactions take place from 06h00 to 08h00 and 17h00 to 18h30, with the strict controls being necessary to avoid any danger of stress to the calves or to the other Herd members.
According to Elephant Manager, Wellington Jana, “It’s wonderful to have two male calves at the same time, which is important for their social skills. They are already inseparable and really naughty, creating an amazing atmosphere in the camp. The privilege of interacting with the young elephants in their natural environment is an experience that very few people can say they have had – a once-in-a-lifetime encounter”.
The birth of Lorato and Paseka’s first calves is a further testament to the important elephant conservation and research work being done at Abu Camp. While they are a part of the Abu Herd, each elephant is an eloquent ambassador for the conservation of its species and the habitats on which elephants depend.
“Although it is early days yet, we hope that our new calves will ultimately be introduced into the wild, along with the other Herd members that have chosen to return there of their own accord; this forms an integral part of our conservation programme at the camp”, added Wellington.
By introducing elephants from the Abu Herd into the wild in Botswana’s remote and pristine Okavango Delta, Abu Camp is making a direct contribution to the future of Africa’s elephants. Each introduction also represents a rich learning opportunity, as local researchers can then track the now-completely wild elephants and learn more about their movements, interactions, and where they choose to spend their time.
This further demonstrates the commitment of Abu Camp’s owner and philanthropist, Paul Allen, to pioneer elephant conservation research in Africa. The results of the Great Elephant Census – the largest Pan-African aerial survey conducted since the 1970s, which was pioneered by Paul Allen – has shown a 30% decline in elephant numbers in 18 African countries over the last seven years. The need for active elephant conservation initiatives thus remains of vital importance.
Revenue from Abu Camp also funds an anti-poaching team, the development of UAV technology for anti-poaching use and a conservation research station with an active elephant research programme. Various community development programmes in the Habu area west of the Abu Concession have included the provision of water to the village and education programmes through Children in the Wilderness’ Camps and Eco-Clubs. Through its association with Wilderness Safaris, the Camp also provides numerous staff empowerment opportunities at all levels of the business through internal and external training mechanisms.