28 June 2008
Their hope lies in the creation of a system of transfrontier conservation areas between SA, Mozambique and Swaziland, which will include the creation of a corridor that will allow the long-separated elephants to meet up again and resume at least part of their old migratory routes.
Known as the Tembe elephants, many were killed or maimed as they got caught up in the escalating conflict that started with Mozambique's anticolonial struggle in the 1960s and its subsequent civil war.
Before that they were able to roam, in relative safety, a vast and sparsely populated area.
As the war escalated, some found a measure of protection in the Maputo Park. Others sought refuge in a rare and ecologically precious sand forest on the SA side of the border, which was proclaimed in 1983 as the Tembe Elephant Park and fenced off on the three southern sides for the mutual protection of the elephants, the forest and the surrounding communities.
Initially, Tembe's northern border was left open. But in 1989, the border was sealed off to discourage poaching.
Since then, the two groups have lived separately from each other. Those daring to cross the divide or those caught in-between have paid a heavy price.
Wayne Matthews, KwaZulu Natal's ecologist for the Maputaland region, speaks painfully of the killing and wounding of the animals before the northern border was sealed off.
In earlier times, he says, the animals had the relative freedom of a large and richly diverse terrain. "Then came the war and everything changed. There might have been some killing for meat. But, as we know, the ivory trade played no mean part in financing arms procurement.
"There were unintended injuries, too, like elephants stepping on land mines. Some got their trunks cut off by snares. Many carried bullet wounds from simply being shot at, sometimes willfully and in other instances probably to scare them off."
He says the elephants would have moved in and out of Tembe Park's sand forest as part of their old migrations. But human attrition would have caused them later to seek refuge in the dense vegetation.
"Those that fled here tended, at first, to be aggressive and unpredictable. To keep them and the surrounding communities safe, we had to fence them in. It was so bad, we had to make it a capital offence for any of our elephants to break out.
"We needed to maintain the integrity of the fence. The same did not apply to elephants breaking in. But now our elephants have generally calmed down and are less shy of humans."
The proposed transfrontier arrangement, which the countries hope to complete within three years, involves five separate conservation areas spanning their respective borders. But the one aimed at improving the lot of the Tembe elephant is by far the biggest and most ambitious.
It will see the creation of a fenced-off corridor of about 50km long and 20km wide to link the 78 000 ha Maputo Park with the 30 OOO ha Tembe Park.
This should allow safe passage to the approximately 250 elephants of Maputo and the 200 or so of Tembe to resume old acquaintances.
Matthews says the creation of the transfrontier park will not only be good for the elephants, but also for Tembe's habitat, by allowing them a broader roaming range rather than just circling the same area.
Meanwhile, the transfrontier development could be further boosted by park developments on the SA side of the border, giving rise to optimism among ecotourism operators that it will bring new economic life to their exquisitely beautiful but largely poor region.
28th August 2006 The Star - 23 August 2006
27 December 2012Turtle monitoring season
The 2012 turtle monitoring season in Mozambique started on 1 October and will continue until April 2013. Throughout the season, Reserve management and turtle monitors undertake vehicle and foot patrolread more
24 December 2012Milibangalala the turtle finds a new home in the Dennegeur crèche
More than 30 children between ages of three and six walked into the room and saw a 2-metre long leatherback turtle lying on the floor. They shouted “Skilpad!, turtle or tortoise in Afrikaans and couread more
18 December 2012Macquarie Munich Team use their feet to raise funds for Peace Parks Foundation
On 14 October 2012, an enthusiastic group of runners from the *Macquarie Group in Munich, Germany raised awareness of, and funding for Peace Parks Foundation.read more
10 December 20122012 Wildlife College graduates challenged to find solutions
With the graduation of its 2012 certificate course students, the Southern African Wildlife College this year celebrated 15 years of developing protected area management expertise across the southern Aread more
4 December 2012Southern African Wildlife College 15-year Review
The 2011 Annual Review of the Southern African Wildlife College, marking its 15 years in existence, is attached.read more
30 November 20122012 Desert Knights Mountain Biking Tour
The October full moon provided the perfect send-off for a group of intrepid mountain bikers on their journey of approximately 300 km through the stark, desolate areas of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transread more
28 November 2012Prof Jakes Gerwel, vice-chairman of Peace Parks Foundation
Peace Parks Foundation deeply regrets losing its vice-chairman, Prof. Jakes Gerwel, who passed away early on Wednesday morning, the 28th of November 2012, following a short illness.read more
27 November 2012Crowning a successful year
On Friday, 16 November 2012, 90 young women and 16 young men from across southern Africa graduated at the SA College for Tourism in Graaff-Reinet.read more
16 November 2012Custodians of the future
Children in the Wilderness is an environmental and life skills educational programme for children focusing on the next generation of decision makers: inspiring them to care for their natural heritageread more
12 November 2012Assisting the Lillydale Home Care Centre
On the 2nd of October 2012 the TFCA Unit of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, in collaboration with Peace Parks Foundation, assisted an underprivileged community living on the wesread more