African Parks and government of Chad took a decision to count all remaining elephant populations in the country and assure their protection against growing poaching pressure. In order to achieve that, beside other measures, we collared many wild elephants with a GPS and radio collar allowing to track the herds for up to few years. On this video from 2013 by Lake Chad, the veterinarian Pete Morkel puts an antidote to wake up the huge elephant bull – named Mandela by local rulers. Arthur F. Sniegon risks his new camera and in craving for getting great footage places the device few steps from the 6 tons heavy elephant. What will happen?
The national park Odzala-Kokoua is one of the biggest in the Central Africa. It shelters huge biodiversity and it is almost entirely covered with a rainforest. Thousands of elephants still live there, however, the number is decreasing every year. Large populations of lowland gorillas and chimpanzees live there as well but they have suffered big losses ten years ago during the epidemic Ebola, which comes there from time to time. On the western side, the park adjoins Gabon and all the other borders are lined with towns and villages along the way on the Congolese territory. Many poachers enter the very heart of the park. Some of them look for smaller prey for food and meat; others commercially hunt the apes and mainly elephants. The huge expanse of protected territory has also its disadvantages, such as bad control and protection possibility. African Parks has managed the park several years already and it is trying to control the illegal hunting. Thank to the director of the park Leon Lamprecht, I was able to enter the darkness of the rainforest for three weeks with pedestrian guards and document for my film their effort and beautiful nature, which we went trough. We were five with everything, what we needed for 20 days, on our backs. There are no routes in the rainforests. Physically, it was one of the most demanding things I have ever experienced in my life. But it was worth it! New friendships and a lot of adventure. I am bringing a selection, at least, of some photographs. The most interesting things were videotaped and you will be able to see them in the film in the future. I thank to Marcus Strobel and Tango Film GmbH for cooperation in transacting the videotaping license. For the next report from Odzala-Kokoua I spared my unforgettable meeting with apes and other animals. Next time! English translation by Eliška Kosová
Only one elephant calf survived the slaughter of whole elephant herd with more than 80 animals in Chad. How did the rescue go and what is awaiting this little baby elephant?
I got to Chad on my bike only few days after the massive elephant slaughter took place. Even the Czech news (idnes.cz) informed about this tragedy and that is how I found out, once I got to the town of Sarh, after long weeks without any internet connection. The news changed all my plans and my arrival to Zakouma NP had to be postponed. I had to get to that place where the massacre had happened no matter what. It was “only” 400km west from my location and so I didn’t wait a bit and set on the way the following morning. By hitchhiking trucks and motorcycles I got closer to the Cameroon border. Within a day I found out the exact coordinates and even got Gary’s contact number, who was a pilot in the area and was trying to map the whole situation. I received a SMS from Gary in the arvo: “There is one baby elephant still alive in the location. We are trying to rescue him. Come!”
Cameroon is my second home. I have spent more than half of the year in this diverse country so far and I have traveled to many places across the spectacular bilingual state. No wonder that I have chosen Cameroon as a start line for my one-year expedition through Central Africa. My bike remained for the first few weeks of my trip safely hidden in the transport box by my friend in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital. Then I went with a small group of my friends – Czech and Slovak volunteers – far to the north of the country. Before starting with my bike-trip I wanted to say hello to all my Cameroonian friends and meet some people important for my save-elephants project as well.