Elephant Seal
Photo Credit: Onrus Vermont SRA; Danel Wentzel

Buffel the elephant seal (and local sealebrity) has what some might call guardian angels on the lookout during his ‘holiday’ in Hermanus. Thanks to these hero volunteers, Buffel’s very vulnerable time is being watched over; keeping him safe and healthy:


Hermanus, South Africa (22 February 2024) — A team of volunteers came together after community organisation Onrus Vermont SRA (who are dedicated to serving their community and environment) put out the call for people to volunteer their time as guardian angels of Buffel, the elephant seal.

This call was to ensure that Buffel’s haul in Hermanus (moulting time in the world of the elephant seal) is as safe as possible for as long as he is on our beaches.

Buffel is a very special elephant seal with a penchant for South African beaches when it comes to his annual haul (here’s why!). In fact, since 2016, he’s been spotted making our local coasts his chosen destinations. Given his state as a rare species (even rarer to find hauling in our part of the world), Buffel’s visit is a pretty big deal.

On 8 February ‘Friends of Buffel’ volunteers were called on to keep their eyes and ears on the ground for the elephant seal while he is in his most vulnerable state. This was especially important after Buffel was harassed near Milk on the Beach; forcing him to head to the sea.

Buffel is spending a lot of time on land, cannot hunt and has lost hundreds of kilograms as part of his haul. So any harassment and interference are incredibly disorientating for him.

Luckily for Buffel, his friends have united and been on the case. Meredith Thornton of Onrus Vermont RSA tells Good Things Guy that her team have for 17 days, worked tirelessly to ensure that the famous elephant seal has had a force of kindness backing him.

“It has been amazing to see how the community has rallied to ensure that he is safe while is here,” she shares.

Almost every day since Buffel was discovered in Hermanus, Onrus Vermont have shared updates on him and his wellbeing. This community have not only educated the public and made sure Buffel is protected as long as they’re on call, but also organised donations for security to guard the elephant seal at all hours of the day and night on top of

Buffel’s holiday has since seen him enjoy snoozes in the sand (ever welcomed for his itching skin), celebrate Valentine’s Day with his volunteers, enjoy his own ‘seal resting sign’ (so everyone knows the to be considerate), get his own special tag with his name for mark-recapture, and even experience a little beach yoga.

Buffel’s haul is a month-long experience which will likely continue into early March. But with his friends looking out for him, we’re sure his holiday will be another Cape adventure to remember.

Sources: Onrus Vermont SRA 
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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