Apollo settles in nicely

Elvira Hattingh
The so-called “Swakop elephant” Apollo who surprised holidaymakers along the coast on Christmas Eve two years ago when he was first sighted in the Swakop River, has since been living at N/a'an ku sê’s Zannier Game Reserve, where he has settled in well on the 7 500 hectare farm and where he has become a “big brother” to two younger elephant bulls, Ace and Astro.
According to N/a'an ku sê’s latest newsletter, Apollo became internationally known when his coastal holiday was interrupted and he was resettled at N/a'an ku sê. They say his is a prime example of how a peaceful solution can be found for human-animal conflict. “The welfare of the individual animal remains our priority, and the peaceful, non-lethal resolution of human-animal conflict remains one of our most important goals,” they said.
Apollo, who was said to have been “visiting” AfriCat's Okonjima Lodge near Otjiwarongo for around three years, surprised Swakopmunders on Christmas Day in 2019 with his appearance in the Swakop River. Shortly thereafter he was lured back inland with water and food while being constantly monitored.
The elephant bull then wandered inland to Kleine Spitzkoppe, but turned back and then made himself comfortable in the Omaruru River. Here he was drugged and collared by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.
They hoped he would settle in the “desert oasis”, but a few months later he moved to the Rossmund Golf Club near Swakopmund. Here he caused property damage and it was feared that he could hurt people. The elephant migrated down the Swakop River every day and was regularly spotted near the Swakopmunder Reiterverein stables. As a result, he was declared a problem animal, meaning that he had to be either done away with or relocated.
Initially the ministry wanted to move him to the Erindi near Omaruru but then decided otherwise. Eventually, he was relocated to N/a'an ku sê. The resettlement cost almost N$500 000, which the owners of N/a'an ku sê raised.
However, the bull’s origins remain a mystery. There are claims that he may have come from the Tsumkwe area, Etosha National Park or even Botswana.