The elephants have finally flown!
The capture and translocation of any animal is always inevitably subject to high levels of stress to those who conduct it but particularly to the animals themselves. The challenge is to keep those stress levels to a minimum, and any interruptions or delays in the process, be they deliberate or unintentional, simply add unwanted trauma and discomfort to the animals being captured and translocated. It also is hugely costly. In the current case of the Swazi elephants, demurrage on the plane, a Boeing 747 cargo carrier, the largest plane to have landed at the King Mswati III International Airport, is a million US Dollars a day.
While human error, and Murphy’s law, are realities to be contended with in any translocation, in the end it is always the animals which suffer the consequences of human error and human behaviour, despite having had nothing to do with what is chosen for them.
Elephants are a species which evoke enormous human emotions among decent, caring, but often misinformed supporters, and animal rights activists have latched on to this to exploit the potential of an extremely fertile and lucrative money making platform from donor funding on which they survive.
For this reason, there are a plethora of sensitivities around the movements of elephants, and in the case of the Swazi elephants a calculated decision was made to follow a discreet and confidential route, for as long as possible, to shorten our exposure to demonstration and demonization by money-hungry activists.
When the news broke about the Swazi elephants, as it always eventually does, the Right Honourable Prime Minister, as Head of Cabinet, was duly informed by Big Game Parks on 29th September 2015.
This statement is released in the hope that delays and frustrations which traumatize and impact very negatively on animals, which become the subject of unnecessary constraints, are better appreciated and minimised in future by everyone involved.
Chief Executive of Big Game Parks, Swaziland