Wildlife corridors — from divide and conquer to connect and restore
04 Feb 2022
Three elephant herds were successfully translocated from the Maputo River landscape just outside the boundary of Maputo Special Reserve to Zinave National Park in Mozambique. This was the first translocation between national parks in Mozambique, which is a result of the country’s dedication to conservation efforts.
The family herds, consisting of seven animals each, were translocated to mitigate human-wildlife conflict that was occurring in the area. Elephants require a lot of space and natural resources, which can cause conflict with communities living within the landscape.
Mozambique’s National Administration For Conservation Areas (ANAC) considered it important to relocate these animals due to the growth of both the human and elephant populations in the area. Elephant populations typically grow at a rate of 6% per year, estimating that the current group would double in numbers within the next 12 years.
The translocation occurred in two phases, the first during the week of 8 May when two herds totalling 14 elephants were safely captured outside Maputo Special Reserve. The operation was supported by ANAC and Peace Parks Foundation with funding from the Nunley Family through the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance. Wildlife translocation experts Conservation Solutions led operations on the ground, while wildlife veterinarians from Mozambique Wildlife Alliance provided logistical and veterinary support, including keeping a close eye on the health of the animals until they were safely released in Zinave National Park.
The second phase, this time sponsored by biologist Forrest Galante also through the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, took place between 12 and 18 May. This time, two bulls and another herd of eight animals were moved. Bringing in bulls elephants is very important for enhancing the genetic pool of Zinave’s elephants.
The elephants are now settling in the 18,000 hectare Zinave National Park sanctuary, where they play their part in restoring balance to its ecosystem. Rewilding efforts in Zinave National Park has, over the last six years, seen animal populations thrive with, amongst others, buffalo, giraffe, sable, ostrich and hyena having been reintroduced.
Zinave is an integral part of the Mozambican component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, and Peace Parks Foundation has a 20-year co-management agreement with ANAC to develop the park into one of Africa’s most celebrated wilderness destinations. In doing so, it will sustain and restore the landscape dynamics of the larger ecosystem and enhance ecological connectivity through the establishment of a wildlife economy in the interstitial communal lands.