JOHANNESBURG – Elephants residing in the Greater Kruger National Park have caused some disruption on the R40 between Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa recently – all in the name of feasting on the best Marula fruit.
Thankfully, Balule Nature Reserve wardens and security staff were there to save the day, even putting themselves in the face of danger to keep members of the public safe.
During the wet season, elephants are drawn to the northern and western boundary of Balule along the R40, thanks to the marula trees and grass in this region getting more water run-off, and thus more juicy fruit.
Usually, this does not pose a problem but these elephants come from a different part of the Greater Kruger and just happen to feast on marula fruit near Balule’s gates. They travel up through the Selati River, which happens to run through a mining area with a rather porous fence.
The fence was only recently repaired, Balule’s head ranger Ian Nowak said.
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Once the elephants were sighted, incorrect reports began to circulate that they escaped from Balule.
“We’re pushing them back into our area, so they assume they’re ours. They’re not breaking through our fence. Our guys are out there saving the general public and motorists, and getting elephants to safety,” Nowak emphasised.
One Balule warden had his car smashed after he put himself between an elephant and motorists on the R40. Gert Kruger did not sustain any injuries, but he drew the charge because motorists ignored the no-go instructions issued to get the elephants off the road.
Gert Kruger’s smashed vehicle after he drew a crash to save motorists from elephants feasting on Marula fruit on the R40. Picture: Facebook
Despite the elephants not residing in Balule Nature Reserve, wardens and security managers assisted in getting them to safety. Picture: Facebook
Motorists in the area are urged to adhere to warnings, for their own safety and that of the animals. Picture: Facebook
And just last week, security manager Jason Nel also drew a charge, this time to save a truck driver and a group of tourists.
“Respect the guys on the ground asking you to stop, for your own safety and the animals’. Motorists – if there are wild animals, let the professionals deal with it.
“We work out where is the safest place to push the elephants through, so we have to stop traffic to push them through. Some motorists jump traffic to push through, and the elephant gets scared and becomes unpredictable,” Nowak said.
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