Category Archives: Blog

Elephants Alive Fundraiser Dinner to #celebrateelephants

Elephants Alive private dinner, with guest speaker, Iain Douglas Hamilton on 20 September in Johannesburg  to #celebrateelephants

The event is sold out! We would like to give a huge thank-you to all our amazing sponsors!

Due to being overbooked the restaurant is stretched to capacity (157 guests). The bookings for our dinner are definitely closed and no more bookings will be taken.

We are proud to announce our guest speaker is Iain Douglas Hamilton, CBE.  Iain is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the African elephant, scientist, multiple award winner and author, founder of the Save the Elephants, and management and scientific advisor to Elephants Alive.

6pm, Cnr Cafe, Craighall Park, Thursday 20 September 2018.

R750 per person – Includes welcome cocktail, wine on tables, 3 course specially created dinner, coffee, and Amarula liqueur.

Dress Code – Gloriously Green

Fantastic raffle and spot prizes, as well as prizes for the best dressed lady and best dressed man.

Reservations – Call Cnr Cafe 011 880 2244 (Re: EA + name + contact number).




Altes Landhaus – Schoemanshoek, Oudtshoorn – 2 nights x 2 suite

  • Swartberg/Meiringspoort round trip
  • Meerkats
  • Cango Ostrich farm

Karusa Wine Farm  – Wine tasting and lunch – 2 guests

Europcarcar hire x 6 days

The Beacon Island – Plettenberg Bay Tsogo Sun – 4 nights x 2 room only


 Pafuri Tented Camp – Return Africa – 2 nights x 2

The Outpost – Rare Earth – 2 nights x 2

Echo Skies – 2 air tickets


Wild Ivory Eco Lodge – 2 nights x 2 / all meals / 2 game drives

Jamila Game Lodge – 2 week nights / all meals / 2 game drives


 A day out tracking elephants with the Elephants Alive Team

Wild Skies Aviation – Helicopter flight

Pungwe Safari Camp (Manyaleti) – 2 night`s accommodation


2 Photographic courses (Udo Kieslich) with the College of Digital Photography

Indlovu River Lodge – 2 nights x 2

Day out with a professional wildlife photographer, Villiers Steyn – photographic adventure in the field + hides


 Pair of silver elephant cufflinks from Bowes Bros


 Kololo  – 1 night x 2 DBB. game drive




Riverleigh Equestrian-Annual Fancy Dress Freestyle Charity Event

After fifteen years – Riverleigh International Equestrian Centre is Celebrating the Crystal Anniversary of its annual Fancy Dress Freestyle Festival on Sunday, 14 October 2018 for the benefit of Elephants Alive.

Riders of all ages enter and compete in this freestyle event and the routines are judged by professional judges. Prizes and trophies are awarded to the best riders for their technical ability and their innovative “fancy dress freestyle routines”.

In order to compete, the riders choreograph a freestyle routine to music, and appropriate costumes are worn by the riders and their horses to reflect the chosen theme. The process takes many months of planning and practice to reach the high standards expected of both horse and rider.

The event is held on a beautiful country estate in Muldersdrift, Gauteng. The property has been professionally designed to include plush livery quarters for horses, ultimately designed for Dressage with two top class full sized arenas, a show-jumping arena and smaller arenas for lunging and pony riders. The full entertainment/catering area is used for show days and seasonal and fun events and can also be used as a place to just sit back, relax and soak in the absolute calm and inviting country atmosphere.

This is not a graded event, but all are most welcome!

For further details on how to get involved, please follow the link below:

Or contact Sheba Zager at

A big thank-you to our sponsors for their generous contributions!

The value of the raffle prize is approximately R 9 400-00:

Karkloof Canopy Tours
4 tickets for the Canopy Tour

Belinda at Midlands Meander Horse Trails 
Trail outride for 2

Johnny and 11 Karkloof  
2 nights accommodation in a 4 sleeper cottage

Cindy Dekker and Rockwood Lodges
2 night midweek stay at Rockwood Farm Cottage for 4 guests


Plus  Blue pouches with 2 products valued at R360 each for riders and other prizes with special thanks to:

Marja Basson and Dermalogica









Elephants and Vultures

Dr Michelle Henley and the GVI volunteers surveying a tree with a nest site.

By Michelle Henley

Every year Elephants Alive monitors large trees used by vultures and raptors as nesting sites for elephant impact. We are trying to determine if elephant impact on the trees compromise the nest survival rates in any way.

We started out monitoring all the nests in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve but were then invited to survey the rest of the Associated Private Nature Reserves which means that we now monitor over 200 trees annually. The trees themselves are evaluated according to the severity of elephant impact for various impact types such as Branches Broke to Access smaller plant parts (BBA), Bark Striping (BS), Uprooting (UR) and Main Stem snapping (MS). The nests are recorded as active or inactive while we also record if only remnants of a nest remain over time.

GPS tagged tree with vulture nest.

After weeks of trekking through kilometers of veld, the team managed to collate another year of unique ecological data depicting the current conservation status of vultures.

We have published our former results (see link) but hope to bring out more results covering a longer time span.  Preliminary results seem to indicate that there are different areas of the Reserves where clumps of vultures are doing better than others. Also, at some sites Knob Thorn trees are preferred while along rivers a greater diversity of tree species are selected for nest building.

White backed vulture nest.

We would like to thank Johna Turner for helping with these surveys year after year and for having a real interest in the work other than being one of the most experienced guides I know. Robbie, Ronnie, Leah, Zoe and Malene, you literally drove and walked the extra mile to help find trees and nests. Thank you to the Wardens of the APNR for marking the nesting spots from the air so that we could monitor them and others found from the ground.


Long term tracking of long lived emissaries continues…

Thank you to Dr. Ben Muller and Dr. Joel Alves for darting and taking good care of our study animals. Joel is currently working part time with Ben from Wildlifevets but will be joining this great organisation permanently next year. Thanks to Gerry McDonald and Jana Meyer for the flying. Joel produced the video as a man of many talents.

By Michelle Henley

It had been a long time since I first experienced the life changing privilege of collaring some of our very first large elephant bulls.  Each of the four giants I first met more than 10 years ago after meticulously drawing their ear patterns, in the hope of a re-sighting down the line.


The ID study both then and now involves taking detailed photos for identification of all associating elephants, recording age estimates, social context, GPS location and the reaction of the elephant to the observer. Once the ID drawing has been made the animal is named, so Proud was christened on 22 December 2002, Intwandamela on 23 March 2004, General on 6 May 2005 and WESSA on 20 October 2006.

Intwanda 14 Years ago, just before charging

Meeting Intwandamela for the first time was the most indelible experience of the four introductions and certainly earned him his name. We primarily IDed elephants from the research vehicle but on this day I was on foot with Eckson, one of the most experienced trackers imaginable. We were specifically stalking the bull for ID pictures after reports of a very impressive animal had come through via the radio network. I was mesmerised by his beauty as we watched him ambling along. His sweeping tusks were hypnotically swaying from side to side. We thought he was unaware of us but as he rounded a termite mound the wind suddenly shifted. He immediately charged. I stood glued to the ground, knowing not to run at such close quarters while Eckson bravely walked forward, raise his arms and shouted ‘Hey! Hey!’. I will never forget how diminutive Eckson’s outline looked against the back drop of the huge bull’s raised head and piercing amber eyes. Time froze. We held our breath as we stared at each other – us hoping the bull will realise we mean him no harm, the bull wondering if he needs to charge again as the dust of his mock charge slowly settled on our unfamiliar outlines which still remained. He kept his fiery gaze on us but gradually lowered his head, then shook it and slowly turned on his heel. We breathed again. Eckson flashed his white teeth at me in an adrenaline filled smile, then motioned to start the long walk back to camp. We walked in silence and in awe of the experience. Having captured his ID I thought that naming him Intwandamela (he who greets you with fire in his eyes) would be very fitting.

Intwanda – now, 14 years after first being collared.
Ben the vet and Dave Powrie with Intwanda

Through the years we have come to know Intwandamela as one of the most placid study animals. He still has a subdued spark in his eye and I like to think that despite the 14 years of following him, it wouldn’t take much to light that fire in his eyes again. Only, I hoped that it wouldn’t happen today as Dr. Ben Muller from Wildlifevets and Dave Powrie, Warden of Sabi Sands, were weaving their way on foot towards him, Ben with his dart gun and Dave as back up. Intwandamela flinched when the dart hit him but only moved a short distance into a dry riverbed. I was thrilled when Ben motioned for me to follow as both him and Dave wanted to keep an eye on the darted bull to make sure he goes down as expected. Intwandamela chose a lovely spot with soft green grass to slowly lie down on while obliviously snoring as the Elephants Alive crew gathered to hastily fit his new collar, take bio-samples and morphometric measurements.

Michelle feeling Intandwa’s molars

There are no words for the emotions you feel when meeting an old friend like Intwandamela at close quarters again. When you can admire how he has come of age and fully grasped the landscape of skin draped over his whale like body. He was on his last set of molars and they were well in wear. I ran my hands across his silky tusks, momentarily praying that he will never become a victim of human greed. The work was done and again I was privileged to stay at close quarters when Ben delivered the antidote. Ben, Dave and I watched him recover and slowly amble off like he had done so many years before…..his eyes containing a fire now left smouldering through many years of habituation, my eyes hot with tears of gratitude.


Thank you to Mark Bourn and Dave Powrie for all the logistical back up. Thank you to Johan Eksteen and Riaan de Lange for the help with the permits. Dr. Ben Muller from Wildlifevets, thank you for making this particular collaring experience so memorable. Dr. Joel Alves is thanked for also offering extra veterinary assistance. Jana Meyer, thank you for being backup pilot. The Elephants Alive team, proud to work with you all and very appreciative of all the help.