Peace Parks Foundation's response to COVID-19 in southern Africa.
Lubombo TFCA, Maputo Special Reserve, Rewilding

Enter the mighty buffalo!

Maputo Special Reserve (MSR) received 99 new buffalo on 26 and 27 June 2019. The animals were translocated from Sabie Game Park as part of a larger rewilding project aimed at restoring the country’s conservation areas.

According to Miguel Gonçalves, MSR Park Warden, the reintroduction of buffalo into the reserve offers several advantages; in addition to increasing the population of the species, which is a member of Africa’s iconic Big 5 and a tourist drawcard, bringing in buffalo will restore balance to an ecosystem that was thrown out of balance when nearly all wildlife was eradicated during the civil war. The buffalo, along with other wildlife introduced, will open trails and create space for other smaller animals to move around. Their by-products will attract insects including dung beetles and these will, in turn, attract other insects, birds and even small predators. In this way, the complete ecosystem is rebalanced and several other animals currently absent from the area should naturally return to the landscape.

Saving the Survivors’ Dr Joao Almeida tested a selection of animals to confirm that they are disease free. Of the 99 buffalo, 15 animals were tested for Tuberculosis and Brucella.

Sandy McDonald, CEO of Sabie Game Park says, “Conservation-based private land investors in Mozambique have been successful enough to contribute to the repopulation of wildlife in the country’s conservation areas. Sabie Game Park has a community-based natural resource management programme through which the Mangalana community will also benefit from this relocation. This project proves that private landowners and communities working together can achieve this kind of success. Today, Sabie Game Park is a wildlife haven with all the members of the Big 5 group present less than two decades after being privileged enough to bring this land back to its former glory, thanks to the unselfish investment of our principle, Mr Oyvind Christensen.”

The operations also managed to capture and relocate a further 15 buffalo from Limpopo National Park where the animals had been causing problems with the communities living in the park’s buffer zone. Both National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks work towards building a trust relationship with communities living in and adjacent to conservation areas, as they play a critical role successfully developing and securing these parks.

Before the most recent translocation MSR, which is located 68 km from Maputo city via the new Maputo-Catembe bridge and 40 km from Ponta de Ouro border post to South Africa, was home to 73 buffalo. With further potential relocations and an annual population growth rate of 12% the programme aims to increase the buffalo population to over 1 000 by 2030.

During the course of the week, the buffalo were released into Maputo Special Reserve. Their thunderous exodus from the trucks left all in awe of their incredible strength.

The translocation of buffalo was made possible with support from Mozbio to ANAC and Peace Parks Foundation, who have a partnership agreement for the management of MSR. Sincerest appreciation also goes to Sabie Game Park for supplying the animals, as well as Saving the Survivors and Wildlifevets.com who were responsible for safely catching and transporting the buffalo.

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