VIERANAS SAFARIS - Elephant Hunt 2007

VIERANAS SAFARIS - ELEPHANT HUNT 2007

With the lack of rain during the 2007 season, the Kamanjab, Kalkveld and Ugab Valley areas experienced a greater movement of Elephants into privately owned farmland due to the drying up of the natural fountains and large dams in Damaraland, and there not being enough natural food sources for the growing Elephant populations in the North-western region of Namibia. In our area, bordering Damaraland the Elephant movement varies from year to year, but this year was worse than usual. In some cases, the Elephant broke windmills, storage tanks, reservoirs, ripping up pipelines, as well as breaking livestock and game fencing. It is a real problem, one where there is no easy solution to keep both farmer and Elephants happy.



In February 2007, the Loxodonta Africana Conservancy was issued two permits for "rogue" Elephant from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The one permit was allocated me, as VIERANAS SAFARIS is a member of the Loxodonta Africana Conservancy; my hunt area is on one of the major Elephant routes.

Therefore, the hunt was on
This was my first Elephant hunt assisting a Big 5 PH and I must admit I was nervous and excited at the same time. The Elephant that we were looking for was a bull that charged farm workers at a nearby tourist lodge and demolished a number of water installations.
I met Jochen his wife Ute and hunting friend Egon from Germany at Windhoek Airport on the Friday and drove up to my hunt area in North West Namibia. The Saturday we spend checking and sighting the rifles at the shooting range, Jochen’s .458 Lotto (I have to get one of those) was spot on and the rifle he was going to use for this hunt. The afternoon we all went on a game drive and I showed him some of the damage caused by the Elephant, two days ago.

On the Sunday, we all went to look for signs for this specific bull Elephant and moved through a number of privately owned farmland. At one of the farms we were told by the staff, they had seen Elephant on a ridge close by that same day. We followed the tracks for 2½ hours or so and found they entered a narrow pass in one of the ridges, which would lead us back to the main road, so we decided to go back round the ridge to the other side. To no avail, the Elephant was gone.

On the Monday, I called on the help of one of the landowners to the south of my hunt area, Jan, who knows the area. We stalked one elephant, which was an awesome experience, but it was not the right one - its tracks were smaller. In the afternoon we saw a herd of 20 with some very small calves, they had an idea we were there and picked up the pace. To see Elephants that close and how the matriarch reacted when a young bull pulled away from the herd was something.
Anyway, on Tuesday we got the call that we were waiting for a worker had spotted two bulls and the one we were looking for was one of them, we ate our lunch as quickly as possible and were off in the hunt vehicles to see if it was still around.

We met the landowner at his house and drove to where his workers was waiting and closely watching the two bulls. The Big 5 PH briefed everyone as to what he expected from them. Once we spotted the Elephant the Big 5 PH, Jochen, Piet and I started to walk in its direction. My mouth had never been so dry, the adrenalin was pumping.
We moved slowly forward in between the bushes towards the bull. At one stage, we got close and the wind shifted. We changed our direction to have the wind in our favour again. Jochen got into position beside a Red bush Willow tree and I set the shooting sticks up for him. Just as he was getting ready to shoot, the Big 5 PH then noticed a second Elephant hidden in the mopanes further to our right. As Jochen shot, the second bull started to charge, Johan shot over the top of the second bull and he retreated.
Jochen aimed for the brain, the bull then fell head first, so Johan backed him up with a spine shot, quickly Jochen followed up with a shot to the heart. We never saw the other bull Elephant again.
Needlessly saying, the landowner was very happy, as this Elephant had done a lot of damage in the area. We decided to leave the slaughter of the Elephant until the next morning and wanted to take some more pictures when the light was better.
The next day on our return, we found fresh tracks of the second bull, so we approached the downed bull with caution checking to see if the second bull was not there waiting for us. Luckily, it looked as if the second bull only made a brief turn the previous evening and must have discovered the dead bull and left the area.
After slaughtering the Elephant, which took the best part of the morning we went back to the Vieranas camp for some much needed refreshments . One of the conditions of the permit is that we have to distribute the meat to the local schools and pensioners in the Kamanjab area so that afternoon we took the vehicle and trailer heavily loaded and delivered the meat to the schools. The children were very thankful for the meat as were the pensioners - a job well done by all.
NAMIBIA-Trophy Hunting Important For EconomyTROPHY hunting in Namibia is a significant contributor to the country's economy, with about eight per cent of the annual gross domestic product (GDP), says the president of the Namibia Professional Hunting Association (Napha). Click here to read the article

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