Les Carlisle: Group Conservation Manager
Sometimes it’s very difficult to wrap up your birthday present
While visiting &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve recently, I had the rare privilege of staying at the Homestead, Phinda’s world-class exclusive-use lodge. Claire Trickett from our marketing team was celebrating her birthday, so what could we do to make her day special? Well, the animals in the reserve decided that they would deputise an elephant bull to the task of sending Claire their birthday wishes, elephant-style!
&Beyond Regional Manager Kevin Pretorius was in the rim flow swimming pool, while Claire and I were sitting on the deck next to the beautiful pool. We had had a very early start at 3h45 that morning and had returned to the lodge to freshen up before the afternoon program started when the elephant did his bit to make Claire’s birthday one she will never forget.
As he appeared out of the bush, Claire had explained that she was scared of elephants. This particular elephant slowly sauntered up to the pool and, as he approached, I started talking to Claire in a low, measured tone. This meant that the ellie knew we were there and he seemed comfortable, so continued his approach right up to the pool and started drinking from it noisily and very wastefully. He obviously didn’t know that I was from the sustainability department and would report his wasteful habits! Once he had taken five or six ellie-sized trunkfuls to slake his thirst, he simply sauntered off back into the Zululand heat and the surrounding bush. It really is something to have a five or six ton elephant that close. So, from me and the wildlife of Phinda, happy birthday Claire!
The rhino translocation project from &Beyond Phinda to Botswana is going full steam ahead, so watch this space for my next update.