The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 October 2022
This month will see the conclusion of the first phase of wildlife translocations to Mozambique’s Maputo Special Reserve with the introduction of 98 zebra and 117 blue wildebeest.
Dr Bartolomeu Soto, Director-General of Mozambique’s National Agency for Conservation Areas notes: “As part of developing the Lubombo TFCA, the governments of Mozambique and South Africa began a translocation programme to Maputo Special Reserve in 2010. The translocations re-introduce species that were historically found in the area, thereby enabling the fast recovery and subsequent increase of the reserve’s wildlife populations. This is essential to developing the reserve as a tourist destination.”
The multi-year endeavour has been made possible thanks to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s donation, capture and transportation of wildlife from reserves in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique. Says Dr David Mabunda, acting CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife: “Transfrontier conservation development is one of Africa’s success stories, not only for conservation, but also for its people working together across international borders. The wildlife translocation programme has been exemplary of the goodwill that exists between our countries.”
Of note, too, have been the Peace Parks Foundation donors supporting the translocations. Says Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation: “Peace Parks Foundation is deeply grateful to the donors who have so generously contributed to the wildlife translocation programme in another very successful public-private partnership.”
Animal numbers steadily increasing
Apart from those to be translocated this month, 904 animals have been translocated since 2010, including kudu, warthog, impala, nyala, zebra, giraffe and blue wildebeest.
In 2014 the Maputo Special Reserve/Tembe Elephant Park committee oversaw the aerial census for Maputo Special Reserve, which was conducted in collaboration with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff based in Tembe Elephant Park. The census indicated that the introduced populations are steadily increasing. Of particular interest was the sighting of seven waterbuck, the first sighting during an aerial census since 2006. The species found to be the most abundant were hippo, reedbuck, elephant, grey duiker, red duiker, zebra, blue wildebeest and giraffe. The wildebeest and giraffe have almost doubled in number since the previous census in 2013.
The steady increase in wildlife number is thanks to the sterling work of park management and the rangers protecting the animals.