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01.12.2004 Politics

Friendly Elephant 'Calls on' Aliu

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Mole, (N/R) Nov. 30, GNA - The elephant, said to be the most friendly at the Mole National Park and nick-named 'Onipa Nua' made an exciting appearance, in what observers described as a courtesy call, at the lodge of Vice President Aliu Mahama at the Park on Tuesday morning. The Vice President, who was invited by a member of his security team to receive his 'guest,' took photographs with the elephant after admiring it for a while.

Onipa Nua emerged at the lodge, where the Vice President spent the night and sat closely nearby as members of the Vice President's entourage were preparing to take off for the day's assignment. The entourage, which included journalists, security personnel, drivers and businessmen, initially welcomed the elephant cautiously from a distance, but they soon overcame their fright and uncertainty and moved closer to observe it.

When they became satisfied that Onipa Nua, who stood and stretched its limbs meant no harm, they moved even closer to it and took turns to take photographs with it.

One senior officer informed them that the elephant could actually be looking for the Vice President to pay a courtesy call on him so he went inside to inform him.

As if to confirm his suspicion, Onipa Nua slowly moved away shortly after the encounter with the Vice President, thus denying those who became daring too late for a photo opportunity.

"You know, the elephant might have come to wish the Vice President well in the elections since we will be going to the polls exactly in a week's time," said a journalist.

The elephant is the symbol of the ruling New Patriotic Party of which the Vice President is the running mate.

A senior guide of the Park told the GNA that Onipa Nua was only sighted on Tuesday morning after a two-week disappearance from which he returned with a broken tusk.

When the Vice President visited the Park about two weeks ago, he was driven by guides to the thickest portion to observe an elephant. The Park, the largest eco-tourism site in the country, is located 170 kilometres west of Tamale in the West Gonja District. It is home to 93 mammalian species, 33 reptiles, nine amphibians and an estimated 300 birds species.

The mammals include some 600 elephants, 2,000 roam antelopes, 3,000 hartebeests, 4,000 waterbucks, 5,000 buffalo and some 6,000 warthogs. Uncounted lions, leopards, hyenas and various primates can also be seen in Mole.

A total of 600km of game protection and viewing roads have been developed within the Park.

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