Last month, our elephant, ecology, and construction advisors joined the Pangea team on site for an intense week of planning. Here's an update on progress...
WELCOMING THE RAINS
It’s such a beautiful time of year out in the wilds of Alentejo. After a long and hot summer, the first rains of the season have drenched the soils and filled the streams and dams. Overlooking the valleys and imagining elephants in the distance is even better in person!
The degradation from the eucalyptus plantation and intensive cattle farming is still apparent and there is still a great deal of work to do to help nature recover, but it’s wonderful to see how the land responds to rain and a little rest. We'll share more about our habitat management plans in the New Year.
MEET THE TEAM
Our site development taskforce convened onsite for an intense week of planning and investigations, and we achieved all we wanted and more. This was in large part thanks to the addition of Steve Hinde and Pawel Sculz from the UK, and Carlos Rosales from Portugal.
The trio come with a wealth of very impressive construction experience, from agricultural builds and hotels through to the undersea tunnels and nuclear submarine bases, so elephant fencing and barns doesn’t phase them. All three are kindly donating their time to help push us through the first phase of development.
We were also joined by our Chief Scientific Advisor and elephant expert, Dr Rob Atkinson, hydrologist, Nick Steiner, and the environment team from Strix. More on all of their wonderful work coming soon...
Our fencing ultimately needs to withstand a bull elephant, and installation in this wild terrain was always going to be a challenge. We had already surveyed the geology in the area ahead of the land acquisition but the only surefire way of knowing what we were facing was to do some digging ourselves. We hired a local excavator who helped us do test slices across the site to a depth of around 3 metres. The results were mixed, but our wonderful construction advisors all agreed that there was nothing that was insurmountable and we can now start sourcing and costing up the necessary equipment and manpower.
OUR FIRST BARN?
Elephants rehomed to large-scale sanctuaries around the world spend most of their time outside and we expect the same to be true of Pangea’s resident elephants. However, access to indoor space is still critical for veterinary treatment and emergencies, and although Portugal was chosen for its Mediterranean climate it is important they have shelter at night and during the cold snaps.
If we can keep costs down by using existing infrastructure without compromising on our exacting standards, we can free up more funds for fencing. We were therefore thrilled to learn that one of the existing barns is suitable for repurposing for up to four elephants (see image above right). It is in the perfect spot too, surrounded by diverse habitat with a stream and dam nearby, as well as a borehole and good vehicle access.
It's now over to our elephant experts to work through their brief before we turn to the architects to draw up the plans. Exciting times!