Kids, Cameras, Collars – and Elephants!

An exciting new partnership has been forged between Wild Shots Educational Outreach and Elephants Alive.

To promote harmonious co-existence between elephants and humans, Elephants Alive run innovative education programmes with the Maseke and Mshishimale rural communities, west of Kruger – in a region where poaching is unfortunately increasing.

Wild Shots Educational Outreach’s aim is to engage engaging previously disadvantaged young people in nature and conservation through photography.

Combine these two – and you have a magical mix of kids, cameras, collars – and elephants!

Eight children, aged 10-12, from the Maseke Primary School, in the Maseke Community, spent an inspirational three days in the bush, at Sefapane Camp, near Phalaborwa. The first two days were spent learning all about digital photography, with Wild Shots Educational Outreach’s Mike Kendrick.

Each day began and ended with a game drive, practicing their new photographic skills, and some of the young learners seeing their first ever big game, including a magical close encounter with a bull elephant.

On the third day the school children had a unique opportunity to photograph three elephant collaring operations.  Phalaborwa Mine is bordered by Klaserie and Balule Association of Private Nature Reserves and the Kruger National Park. Although the mine is fenced, elephants have broken through the barriers – causing potential danger for both the mine, its staff and the elephants. By collaring three elephants, this will give Elephants Alive crucial information on their movements, helping understand what is attracting elephants to the mine, and identifying potential hotspots so that human:elephant conflict can be mitigated.

As soon as the elephant was safely tranquilized, the young learners were able to watch and photograph the collaring operation at close quarters.  Within twenty minutes, each new collar was in place, biological samples were collected, and the children retreated to the safety of the vehicle, to watch the elephant stand up, recover and go on its way.  What an exciting and exhilarating morning – for everybody.

A big thank you to vet Dr Cobus Raath, Joris Bertens and Michel Giardin of Sefapane Lodges, Phalaborwa Copper, Bushwise and Lewyn Maefala of Bushbabies.