This is the first time a circus elephant has been successfully reintegrated into a wild environment in South Africa, and the first time it has helped in creating a craft gin!!!
Knysna Elephant Park, South Africa – One of the main aims of the Knysna Elephant Park (KEP) has been to provide a safe home to orphaned elephants and other elephants in need. They have been doing this for the past 25 years.
One of these elephants is Clyde, an ex-circus elephant, who joined the KEP family in 2009. Clyde was part of the matriarchal herd at the Park for many years, enjoying the space, freedom and family life that the circus had not been able to provide. He looked to the older bulls for guidance and leadership, he reached out to the young females in the herd for companionship, and he bonded with a fellow ‘teenager’ called Shaka.
But soon, as it would be in the wild, it was time for him to move on. The matriarch and the older females were asserting their authority, and Clyde and Shaka were spending more and more time on the outskirts of the herd. In the wild, young males naturally leave their family herd to form independent bachelor groups; and Clyde and Shaka needed the space and the opportunity to do this for themselves.
The Park looked for a new home and found the ideal space and new family at Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. Botlierskop, not only offered them a wild home but also the much-needed guidance of an older male, through their bull elephant, Sam and his offspring Chima and Thambile.
“In 2017, Clyde and Shaka were translocated and released into a 4200-hectare wild reserve…the first time a circus elephant has been successfully reintegrated into a wild environment in South Africa!”
They were first placed in a release camp to settle in, where the research team from AERU – African Elephant Research Unit, based at the Knysna Elephant Park spent time observing, monitoring and watching them learn the meaning of ‘wild’. Follow up visits by AERU have seen Clyde and Shaka settling in well at Botlierskop. On one visit they were spotted deep in the valley grazing peacefully, while on another visit they were able to witness a respectful elephant greeting between Clyde and Sam, while Shaka amused himself chasing waterbuck.
But the spiderweb of life is an interesting network of coincidences and consequences. Recently, Paula and Les from Indlovu Gin, made a call at the Knysna Elephant Park to chat about their new project… elephant-dung infused gin!
Indlovu Gin is an innovative premium gin for the adventurous spirit and the discerning gin collector. The only gin designed by the African elephant from foraged botanicals, uncover the authentic taste of Africa in every glass. The gin is smooth, complex with earthy flavours and so good all you need is a glass and ice.
“This is an exclusive gin for the person who loves the spirit of Africa – the freedom, the sunsets, the textures and the flavours of the African bush. The Ibhu brand is founded in the spirit of innovation, and Indlovu is our gin under that brand. Indlovu gin is made using multiple flavouring runs. The essential ingredients in Indlovu gin are derived from elephant dung that is washed and dried. The extracted botanicals are then infused into the gin, which provides the unique African flavours.”
It so happens, that the dung they collect comes from Botlierskop Game Reserve, where Clyde is one of the main contributors to this uniquely African product!!!
“Who would have ever thought that a circus elephant could play such an intriguing role in a variety of South African tourism products, all represented at the WTM Africa 2019 in Cape Town!”
Indlovu Gin products can be purchased at the Knysna Elephant Park and Botlierskop Private Game Reserve.