Short Film Showcase: How to Move a Two-Ton Elephant to Safety
Due to habitat encroachment, three African forest elephant families settled in the outskirts of Daloa, Côte d’Ivoire. Tensions mounted between villagers and elephants as the animals damaged crops and destroyed property. Villagers threatened to retaliate and even kill them if necessary. To save the country’s national symbol the Ivorian government intervened, calling on the International Fund for Animal Welfare to help move the elephants to the protected area of Azagny National Park. This short excerpt covers the exciting first day of the mission. I spoke with filmmakers Michael Booth and Brant Backlund about the rescue and tragic second day.
Why was this particular region of Côte d’Ivoire chosen for the elephant rescue?
A small population of wild forest elephants had settled in small pockets of relict forest on the outskirts of Daloa, the third largest city in Côte d’Ivoire. The elephants came into conflict with local farmers as they foraged the cultivated fields. After a few years, the situation became untenable. Villagers were going hungry and clashes with the elephants led to people getting hurt and killed.
The best—and really the only—solution that would keep the endangered elephants alive was to move them to a protected area, in this case to Azagny National Park in the southern coast.
Has the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) performed a rescue of forest elephants in the past?
We carried out a massive translocation of 83 elephants in Malawi in 2009, but on
that rescue we were dealing with savannah elephants. The open savannah proved much easier to operate in because the elephants were easier to spot, dart, track, and load. The dense forest of Côte d’Ivoire was a whole different ball game. As far as we know, this was the first time that an operation like this had been carried out for —> Read More