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Orphaned elephants caught in the middle.
Bobby Jordan Sunday Times<;
A standoff between a gold mining company and a herd of orphan elephants at a wildlife sanctuary has landed up in court and prompted an international outcry.
Conservationists are trying to stop the Maranda Mining company from scaring animals by blasting for gold inside the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary in Limpopo.
Each side accuses the other of operating illegally.
At the heart of the row is a herd of orphan jumbos that have been shunted around several times since the herd was first targeted for culling in the Kruger National Park in the early 1990s.
After the cull, several orphans were relocated to the Thukela Biosphere Reserve near Weenen in KwaZulu-Natal , but a land claim in 2006 meant the herd had to be moved again %u2014 this time to SanWild near Tzaneen, where they live among animals including lions, leopards, buffalos, rhinos, wild dogs, warthogs and giraffes.
Gold mining is due to begin this year, which SanWild claims could spell disaster not only for the elephants but for the entire sanctuary, which is internationally renowned and receives funding from the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.
SanWild director Louise Joubert said: We have fought tooth and nail to get one of the largest animal sanctuaries in the world established in South Africa. It has been blood, sweat and tears. You cannot expect me to sit by and let a company come in and jeopardise the future of these animals and destroy our ecotourism operation, which we are working very hard to build up.
But Maranda Mining, which obtained mining rights to the property from the previous landowner, says in addition to unpredictable commodity prices it now has to worry about interference from wild animals.
The standoff has already gone one round in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, where Maranda Mining last year won an urgent order allowing them access to the property. The order was upheld on appeal. Now SanWild is lodging an objection with the Department of Minerals and Energy against Maranda mining permit and is bringing a high court action to compel the department to respond.
The standoff drew comment from international animal welfare expert Michael Kennedy of the Humane Society International in Australia one of SanWild major donors. and is making its concern known to the SA authorities, and will inform our colleague conservation organisations around the world of the sanctuary plight, Kennedy said. More than 60 elephant are due to be removed from a densely populated area in Malawi after killing ten villagers there, Sapa reports. this week. They elephant will be tranquilized, loaded into vehicles and transported to a wildlife reserve. Malawi is grappling with increasing elephant-human conflict due to human population growth. (Extract from Article)