SAPA news agency:
rescue operation April 9 2003 An elephant has launched an extraordinary
rescue operation, opening a gate with her trunk to free antelopes
being held at a camp near Empangeni in the east of South Africa.
Lawrence Anthony told the SAPA news agency that a private game
capture company had rounded up the antelope to relocate them for
a breeding program. The team were settling in for the night when
a herd of 11 elephant approached, he said. "The herd circled
the enclosure while the capture team watched warily, thinking
the herd were after lucerne (alfalfa) being used to feed the antelope,"
he said. The herd's matriarch, named Nana, approached the enclosure
gates and began tampering with the metal latches holding the gates
closed. She carefully undid all the latches with her trunk, swung
the gate open and stood back with her herd. "At this stage
the onlookers realised this was not a mission for free food, but
actually a rescue," Mr Anthony said. The herd watched the
antelope leave the camp before they walked off into the night.
Ecologist Brendon Whittington-Jones said: "Elephant are naturally
inquisitive - but this behaviour is certainly most unusual and
cannot be explained in scientific terms"."