After a lifetime in the same enclosure, with the same routine, Thandora the elephant is getting a taste of freedom. Thandora lived behind bars for 18 years at South Africa’s Bloemfontein Zoo with one companion. When her companion died, it was decided to “retire” her to the wild.
She is becoming acclimated to her new home at Gondwana Game Reserve in Cape Town. Having spent the first few weeks in a specially designed boma to get her used to her new surroundings, she is now confidant enough to venture beyond it. She has taken to the team at the reserve, and follows them in their Land Rover. But day by day, the distance between her and the vehicle is increasing, leaving the team confidant she is getting ready to be on her own.
There are two other elephants at the Reserve who have made it clear they welcome Thandora. It is hopeful she will join up with them and be part of the herd.
The change from captivity to the wild is enormous. It is imperative for the elephant to have the appropriate location, care and companions. The mental and physical health of the animal is also watched carefully; they must be able to build up strength to sustain them in the wilderness, alter their diet by learning how to forage, and have the confidence to successfully venture forth into the wilderness.
But it is clear that nature is taking over, Thandora’s instincts are strong and she is on the track to success.