After five days of long and tiring journey, but without unforeseen events, the Asian elephants Pocha, 55, and Guilhermina, 22, finally arrived at the SEB (Elephant Sanctuary in Brazil) in Chapada dos Guimarães, Cuiaba metropolitan area, the place is will be the duo’s new home.
The truck that took the mother and daughter from Mendonza, Argentina to Mato Grosso parked outside the sanctuary around 11 am this Thursday (12). They were met by a group of specialists and veterinarians.
The box that brought Pocha was the first to leave the truck. It was placed at the entrance to the veterinary center of the reserve, the only indoor facility in the space, which is used to provide medical care and education to animals arriving in a new habitat.
As soon as the first box was opened, a treat of fruits, vegetables, palm and tree leaves awaited Pochu. Despite the treats offered, Pocha remained suspicious as she surveyed the new location – her last move was 54 years ago, since she left Germany for Argentina.
Pocha remained there for hours, throwing earth over her body with her trunk to repel insects and protect herself from the sun, until a sudden rain came. Pocha wasted no time and smeared his body with the resulting mud, a game that elephants love.
Until the end of the day this Thursday (12) Pocha still did not leave the box, he kept walking back and forth, signaling that he doubted his movements. As soon as Pocha leaves the box, it will be her daughter Guilhermina’s turn.
To Sheet Daniel Moura, biologist and director of SEB, explains that this process may or may not be time-consuming, but it is important to keep the animal accountable to facilitate the trust process.
The biologist believes that even with Pochi’s delay, in Guilhermina’s case, the stage will be faster, as she will see her mother at the SEB veterinary center.
Daniel says space is the first place the animals in the sanctuary know. “If they don’t want to shower in the rain, they run here, but since they love the rain, they rarely come,” he says.
This place is necessary so that the animals go through the process of adaptation and training, and veterinarians have access to the bodies of animals for care.
“We call it positive reinforcement. We give them something they like to eat like fruit so they let us train them so they get commands and they can let us access a paw, an ear, a body part. their bodies,” he explains.
Daniel notes that this process can also take a long time.
“They don’t go through a series of tests as soon as they arrive. The elephant must first allow them to access it.”
Pocha and Guilhermina lived in a kind of moat about six meters in size in the Ecopark in Argentina. “Here they move from tiny places to a giant expanse of natural vegetation where other elephants can socialize,” says the biologist.
“This is of great importance in the process of restoring the physical and mental health of these animals, who have lived in inappropriate situations all their lives. Pocha is at least 55 years old in the same corner, and Guilhermina is 22 years old since her birth. saw nothing but the moat in which she lived,” he sums up.
After the adaptation process and appropriate examinations, Pocha and Guilhermina will be able to leave the veterinary center and go to other enclosures, which cover an area of 10,000 m.2 20 million m2.
In these other phases, encounters with Maya, Rana, Lady, Mara and Bambi, other elephants living in the reserve, will occur “at the time of the new arrivals,” officials say.
“The first contact takes place in the initial enclosures. There, as there are bars, they touch each other, sniff each other if they want to. And trust comes to them, regardless of whether they allow rapprochement or not,” he says.
Also, according to the biologist, there is no risk of a fight between residents and aliens. “There will be no one elephant chasing another. It doesn’t happen because their approach only happens when someone allows it. They exchange signals when it’s time to get closer or when they want to be alone. They are very polite and sociable. .”
Pocha and Guilhermina have been traveling since last Saturday (7) by truck. In total, they traveled 3228 km to their final destination.
With 1,100 hectares (equivalent to seven Ibirapuera parks in São Paulo), SEB is the first place in Latin America dedicated to the conservation of these animals.
It has a medical area, water tanks and a food sector. Elephants receive daily care and have 29 hectares of space to roam – only adapted areas are allowed for the animals, not the entire land, so they can be properly looked after.
Pocha is described as a “quiet and caring mother” while Guilhermina “has a ‘beautiful character’ and behaves like a spoiled child, as she does not know how to behave as elephants when she is young.
According to information from the reserve, Pocha was born in 1967 in Germany and arrived in Argentina the following year. She has pale pink skin with black patches, with depigmentation characteristic of Asian elephants.
Guilhermina has a small build, strong skin and a small belly. And, despite the fact that he has lived all his life in captivity, he shows energy for the game.
Aside from the arrival of Poch and Guillermina, SEB is still awaiting import clearance for Tami, Guillermina’s father, who is 50 years old and is Asian.
Another waiting for Kenya’s “visa” is a 35-year-old African elephant. However, the necessary permits to transfer both to the reserve are still in the process of being processed.