WITH the world’s eyes on the mysterious deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana since May this year, World Elephant Day on Wednesday August 12, 2020 is an opportunity to raise awareness across the globe around the preservation and protection of these gentle giants.
While elephant numbers are burgeoning in protected conservation areas in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, “relic populations” are dwindling across Sub-Saharan Africa and some may even face extinction. These free roaming tuskers, such as the desert elephants of Namibia, frequently come into conflict with remote villages and farming communities caught between migrating herds.
In support of the peaceful cohabitation of elephants and humans, Balance, the caring range of South African wines with its trusty mascot, Hank the elephant, standing tall on every bottle, is committed to the preservation of these declining populations.
For every bottle of Balance sold, a contribution is made to the Elephant Human Relations Aid (EHRA) PEACE Project, an educational initiative that promotes the amicable co-existence of local communities with desert-adapted elephants in Southern Africa. Balance also generates awareness through a fun online game helping Hank the elephant overcome obstacles to return to his ancestral desert home. The game can be accessed directly here, or through the QR code found on Balance wine bottles.
“The Southern African desert elephants and EHRA are something that I am especially passionate about. Seeing these enormous creatures living in the wild really made an impression on me. Through Balance wines, we are pleased to be able to give back to a cause that means a lot to us,” says Gerhard van der Wath, owner and chairman of Overhex Wines International and a keen wildlife enthusiast who would like to see these elephants roaming freely for generations to come.
Over the years, increasing human population and settlements have interrupted traditional elephant migratory routes, resulting in human-wildlife conflict. Increased competition for land, access to water, as well as a lack of knowledge on how to coexist peacefully with elephants in the wild, are the main concerns being addressed by EHRA.
Initially thought to be a separate species from the African bush elephant, Loxodonta africana, desert elephants have in fact adapted and evolved over time to withstand the harsh Sub-Saharan dry lands.
In an effort to save one of only two desert elephant populations in the world, EHRA offers practical solutions to human-elephant conflict areas through initiatives such as water point conservation on farms, vehicle-based patrols to track and monitor the elephants, and community development and upliftment.
The EHRA PEACE project empowers people in close proximity to wild elephants with the necessary information to keep themselves, their families and livestock safe during encounters of the elephant kind. They are taught how to identify and interpret elephant behaviour and given safe, elephant-friendly alternatives to protect their crops.
With their incredible sense of hearing and smell, desert elephants are often drawn to farms or schools in search of water, posing a potential threat to the residents and crops.
These intelligent and empathic giants are generally misunderstood by people unfamiliar with elephant behaviour resulting in negative and harmful reactions towards the animal. This lack of understanding poses a threat to farming communities and livestock and in extreme cases may lead to the culling of elephants.
Help EHRA save these desert elephants by purchasing Balance wines online for delivery once Covid-19 restrictions have eased. Join in on World Elephant Day by downloading the Balance game and help Hank the elephant return to his desert home while earning Balance Bucks to redeem when purchasing Balance wines. For more information on EHRA, click here.