If you’ve ever had the opportunity to venture out and explore the beauty of Knysna Elephant Park, you’d know that the helpful guides are as much a part of the experience as the elephants are. They are devoted to their job, and always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that those who visit the park are given the full experience.
But tragedy struck on Saturday, October 16 following the devastating loss of elephant guide and guardian, Shepherd Chuma, much to the dismay of management and staff of the Park.
Shepherd lost his life in an elephant-related incident while the guides were returning a group of elephants to their night camp after a day spent in the free-roaming camp adjacent to the Park, where they often go to forage in the bush.
In a statement on Facebook, Knysna Elephant Park explained that Saturday’s severe weather conditions are thought to have been a contributing factor to the elephant’s unprecedented behaviour.
Shepherd dedicated over 10 years to a life at the Knysna Elephant Park and “was a favourite among the elephants”. He was loved and respected by colleagues and friends, and many guests and volunteers will remember him for his friendly demeanour and radiant smile.
Tributes have been pouring in since with one Facebook user saying “This is such sad news. He was so lovely to us as volunteers with AERU” while another said “RIP Shepherd you were one of the best and your smile and kind heart will forever be a good memory to me and my family you will be missed on our next trip to the elephant parks Condolences to your family and the Knysna Elephant Park family”.
Another user said that “Just last month we had the privilege to have Shepherd as our guide” and is devastated by this tragedy.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Prisca, his children, extended family, and friends.
“We will treasure our memories of him for many years to come.
“Rest in peace, Shepherd – our dear friend,” the statement concluded.
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