Woodland World Wide Collars Lotter Woodland
On the 30 July 2019 Woodland Africa along with the team from Elephants Alive, a vet team from Wildlifevets, and a pilot from Wild Skies Aviation, had the opportunity to collar an elephant!
Woodland Africa decided to pair up with this association purely because we felt that our pro-planet values align with the core values of Elephants Alive.
Elephants Alive is a non profit organisation based in Hoedspruit South Africa, operating in the Associated Private Nature Reserves to the Kruger National Park.
Their core mission is to “ensure the survival of elephants and their habitats and to promote harmonious co-existence between man and elephants.”
Elephants Alive over the past few years have collared 103 elephants and on the 30 July we successfully collared the 104th elephant - Lotter Woodland ! This young elephant bull is rather full of mischief as about a year ago, Lotter Woodland along with 2 other bulls successfully escaped the reserve on numerous occasions, to devour sweet tasting mangos on the neighbouring farmers properties.
Lotter and his fellow escapees were named in honour of Wayne Derek Lotter, a hero conservationist assassinated in Tanzania in 2017 for his incredible efforts in combating wildlife crime.
Why did we collar Lotter Woodland?
Lotter Woodland was fitted with a GPS collar to monitor and track his movement, predicting and preventing a possible breakout from the reserve by the Elephants Alive team. Breakout and crop-raiding elephants can easily be categorized as problem animals, which poses a threat to their life. Essentially, the collar is a tool to protect Lotter Woodland’s life and therefore has been very important.
How did we collar Lotter?
Before the collaring operation, the Elephants Alive team went into the field to locate Lotter Woodland ensuring that on the day of the collaring he was found and the operation would be a success! Two days before the date, the team found him and made it their mission to keep a close eye on him every day. In the early morning of the collaring operation a small part of the team went out to Lotter Woodland to notify the vet, pilot and ground team of his whereabouts. A highly skilled pilot is key in a collaring operation; he/she has to fly the vet close and in position to dart the elephant, herd the animal safely into a suitable working area, and all of this perfectly timed for when the sedative kicks in. This is not an easy task!
Once the animal goes down to the ground, the pilot drops the vet close by and the ground team moves in immediately. Sometimes the team has to move fast as elephants can land on their sternum, which makes breathing laborious and difficult. In those cases, if it is at all possible the team will try to turn the elephant on its side or has a very short window period to fit the collar and take all measurements before the vet admits the anti-sedative.
Lotter Woodland landed on his sternum, but the entire team pushed and pulled and managed to turn him onto his side. The experienced team fitted the collar swiftly, collected various tissue and hair samples and took body measurements.
Afterwards we were given an opportunity to move in closer and actually get to touch Lotter Woodland.
What an experience.