First circus elephant re-wilded in SA

The Knysna Elephant Park (KEP) was founded in 1994 as means to house and care for orphaned African elephants. The facility was the first of its kind in South Africa. Today, the park has looked after over forty elephants.

Clyde at the Knysna Elephant Park


The elephants living here have come from all kinds of backgrounds. Some were relocated, orphaned, or rescued from being culled or from circuses. The resident herd at the Knysna Elephant Park consists of ten members. This is the largest domesticated herd in the country.

However, some of the park inhabitants have had to move on and have been relocated to other reserves. The decision to relocate an elephant depends on its relationship with other elephants, its personality and its needs for its well-being.

One male elephant, Clyde, was rescued from a circus and joined KEP in 2009. He had adapted to the matriarchal herd and bonded with another elephant called Shaka.

In 2017, the two male elephants were translocated to Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. The reserve is completely wild and measures 4,200 hectares. The reserve is also home to an older male elephant named Sam. The wild setting and guidance of Sam made the perfect new home for the two elephants.

The Knysna Elephant Park stated, ‘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.’

Once relocated and moved into their new home, the animals were monitored by the African Elephant Research Unit, based at KEP, to ensure the process of re-wilding would be successful.

The elephants have also been a part of the production process of Indlovu Gin. The spirit is a craft gin, created using foraged botanicals from elephant dung, most of which comes from the elephants at Botlierskop Private Game Reserve.


Image source: Facebook / Knysna Elephant Park




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