On the 13th of March the South African National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) received an anonymous tip-off that five (5) elephant calves had been removed from their herds and that their mothers were to be shot at Sandhurst Safaris, Tosca in the North West Province. The juvenile elephants were to be transported via road from the North West Province to Elephants of Eden, Alexandria, in the Eastern Cape. Elephants of Eden is owned by the Knysna Elephant Park, which operates elephant back safaris.
The NSPCA immediately notified authorities at the National Department of Environmental Affairs who in turn alerted their Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit and supporting enforcement officials. A road block was set up to stop the truck and check for the relevant permits. Despite the fact that the truck had diverted from its original route, the SAPS were able to locate it in the Northern Cape and it was stopped in Kimberly. The truck was carrying only four elephants that were notably older than indicated on the permits.
Training elephants for the safari industry is well known for the cruelty employed in breaking the spirit of an elephant to make it compliant to human interaction. The removal of elephants from the wild for purposes of captivity is contrary to the National Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants in South Africa. Government Gazette 29 Feb 2008 in terms of section 9 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act No 10 of 2004.
According to the NSPCA the mothers were to be shot as trophies at Sandhurst Safaris, an infamous hunting ranch in the North West Province which offers Big Five hunting opportunities. Sandhurst Safaris website currently indicates the cost of hunting the Big Five to be price on application only, but its 2008 rates indicated a cost of US27,800.00 to shoot an elephant.