Nica Richards

By Nica Richards


Botswana elephant sanctuary owner dies after being trampled in the wild

Elephant whisperer Douglas Groves passed away after being trampled by a wild elephant, his wife Sandi confirmed on Monday. 

A Botswana-based elephant conservationist who dedicated his life to working with and studying elephants has died. 

Elephant whisperer Douglas Groves passed away after being trampled by a wild elephant, his wife Sandi confirmed on Monday. 

She said Groves was out in the bush when the incident took place. 

I am devastated to inform you that our beloved Doug Groves, passed away on Friday. While Doug was out in the bush it…

Posted by Living With Elephants Foundation on Sunday, August 30, 2020

Groves spent 48 years working with elephants, and worked in Africa since 1987. 

Sandi and Doug’s non-profit organisation, Living with Elephants Foundation, gave African elephants a safe home in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The couple have spent almost 30 years taking care of orphaned elephants, many of which were saved from culling operations in the area. 

The elephants currently thriving at Living with Elephants Foundation are Jabu and Morula, both saved from culling practices in South Africa which saw them orphaned. 

Sandi with Marula. Photo: Living with Elephants Foundation

Doug with Jabu. Photo: Living with Elephants Foundation

Botswana is home to one-third of Africa’s elephant population, but their presence has created tension between herds and communities. 

The region lifted its ban on elephant hunting in 2019, as a result of the elephants’ insatiable appetite for crops grown by local residents. 

Humane Society International (HSI) wildlife director Audrey Delsink told The Citizen earlier this year that around 400 elephants had been tagged already, as part of the quota system set by government. These elephants are destined to be culled.

In July, 275 elephants mysteriously died, baffling ecologists and scientists. 

Despite autopsy samples being taken, their cause of death has not yet been confirmed. 

Poaching and tuberculosis have been ruled out. They may have died due to toxins in the water they drink, poisoning, a viral infection, or a combination of ailments. 

These majestic creatures often get blamed for many ecological mishaps, such as killing tall trees, but they play an integral role in the ecosystem they live in. 

Not every tree elephants push over dies. Those that do not become micro-habitats for an array of important indicator species – creatures that are good indicators of the health of the environment they live in. 

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