Elephant Unlatches Gate
To Save Antelopes


EMPANGENI, South Africa (AFP) - The matriarch of a herd of elephants in South Africa opened a gate with her trunk to free antelopes being held at a camp in the east of the country.
Lawrence Anthony told the SAPA news agency Tuesday that a private game capture company had rounded up the antelopes at their camp near Empangeni to relocate them for a breeding programme.
The team were settling in for the night when the herd of 11 elephants 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," 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".




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