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Clem Coetzee

Clem Coetzee (c. 1939 – 7 September 2006) was a Zimbabwean conservationist. It was with utter disbelief that we heard that on the 4th September 2006, the day of Steve Irwin's tragic death, that one of Zimbabwe's great conservationists - Clem, also passed away.

Clem was a well known and highly respected conservationist and had a real affinity with elephants, having done numerous relocations during his life. He was widely considered to be the "Elephant Guru" in Zimbabwe.

Clem was as important to Zimbabwean conservation as Steve Irwin was to Australian conservation and it is ironic that both of these incredibly courageous men passed away on the same day.

Clem developed methods to move elephants in family groups by darting them with sedatives from a helicopter and lifting them via heavy-duty rubber conveyor belts into truck containers or freight train cars, where they were revived and fed and given water for journeys of hundreds of kilometres. In the Gonarezhou nature preserve in southern Zimbabwe during a drought in 1992, he moved at least 40 elephants to new habitats in neighbouring South Africa in the first operation of its kind in which electronic tracking microchips were implanted beneath the animals' skin.

He was also responsible for spearheading a campaign to sedate and saw off the horn of the endangered African rhinoceros as a means of combating rhino poaching.

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