After years of uncertainty, SANParks has established that there is only one elephant left in the Knysna forest.
The finding follows on a long-standing dispute in conservation circles after an independent DNA study in 2007 appeared to point to the presence of at least eight elephants in the forest.
The SANParks finding, announced at a press conference at the organisation’s Knysna headquarters on Wednesday, flows from a comprehensive study undertaken by a team of scientists using 80 remotely activated “camera traps” over a period of 15 months.
The report shows that the lone elephant is an adult female, and indications are she has not calved for a long time, if ever.
“She displayed swollen temporal glands and excessive streaming, which suggests she may be stressed, potentially due to her solitary existence.”
The study shows that the elephant is ranging through the forest and a section of fynbos within the Garden Route National Park and across adjacent private land owned by three different landowners.
SANParks is urgently consulting with these landowners as well as other stakeholders to determine how to manage the situation, the report says.