Representatives from SEMA, the agricultural agency for the state of Mato Grosso, are visiting the Sanctuary today with media to document all the positive changes to the land that have occurred since elephants have come.
That organization wears a lot of different hats, one of which is to issue the licenses for occupancy for the elephants – yes, just like a new building needs a certificate of occupancy, so does Sanctuary land. This means they look at our habitats (land that is fenced in for the elephants to access) and decide how many elephants it can reasonably support without damaging the environment.
SEMA has always had similar rules for cattle and farmers, and now, thanks to us, they’ve developed rules for elephants. As you know from our videos, we have a variety of incredible wildlife that call the sanctuary home, such as macaws and antas.
When we first talked about bringing elephants here, the government had some concerns that elephants would damage the environment and that the wildlife that calls our land home would lose habitat. As you all know from our photos and videos from the habitat, that is not true and has not occurred.
SEMA has been keeping very detailed documentation, as well as before- and after- photos, of the land. They come periodically to update their records and continue to document the positive impact elephants have had on the land.
Sustainability is also very important to us, both as individuals and as an organization. Part of what makes this land so perfect for elephants is the flora and fauna, so we are always pleased to work with SEMA to ensure we are the best stewards of the land that we can be.
This is also the organization that will ultimately issue the occupancy license for the African habitat which will allow us to rescue Kenya and, eventually, other female African elephants. I know many of you have been asking if we need all three yards to be completed before Kenya comes and the answer is yes – all three yards are how much land SEMA requires her to have before she arrives.
Before you can ask, no, there are no such similar laws or regulations for space in zoos, but these requirements are made for the land, not for the elephants. That being said, these requirements for land and space per elephant are something we support – we also want to protect the land. Not only are their requirements reasonable, but we know Kenya will approve once she arrives, and her approval will be obvious.
We will try to do an update on the girls later today, but, for now, here’s a picture of Kenya at the EcoParque Mendoza.