A solar-powered 'Meerkat' is protecting South Africa's rhinos
17 February 2020
Over a two-day period in February 2019, Maputo Special Reserve (MSR) in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation undertook the collaring of six elephant cows and two buffalo in Mozambique’s Maputo Special Reserve.
The collars allow real-time tracking of the animals and provide baseline data on their location, behavior and movement patterns. This information is captured into a geographic information system for further analysis, reporting and record-keeping.
Brian Neubert, Peace Parks’ technical advisor working in MSR said that the information collected will be used for scientific research to learn more about the animals’ behavior, the size of their home range and migration routes, whether environmental changes alter their behaviour, and the longer-term impact elephants have on, for example, vegetation within the reserve. Being able to predict which areas the animals prefer to roam in, and when, also enables park management to enhance protection efforts through strategically planned anti-poaching efforts, as well as improve pro-active reduction of conflict between humans and wildlife. Overall, the data provided by the collars will enable more efficient conservation management of the species, and the park.
The Reserve has around 400 elephants, and 73 buffalos have been relocated here over the past 3 years, with numbers set to increase as the rewilding programme continues.
The operation was funded by the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a global organisation of 27 000 CEOs. Dex Kotze, a member of YPO has championed several YPO events where a dozen or so members fund scientific conservation efforts and also participate in the projects. This year, they are focused on MSR because it offers richness in terms of biodiversity, easy access and a rapidly growing wildlife population, boosted annually through the translocation of animals from other parks in the region. Dex highlighted the importance of large international organisations supporting conservation activities that require extensive resources. Further support was provided by Elephants Alive, Saving the Survivors, and Mozambique Wildlife Vets. Elephants Alive will monitor the movement and migration routes for further scientific research.
Because of the large population of elephant family herds living in Maputo Special Reserve, it is fondly known as the Elephant Reserve. Although these giants are one of the 1,040 km2 reserve’s most charismatic species, the park is also home to reedbuck (or chango), zebra, giraffe, hippo, crocodile, and a variety of antelope and birds that include the iconic Fish eagle. The reserve is located in the Matutuíne district within the Maputo Province and its natural landscape contains wonderful sand forests, mangrove swamps, sweeping grasslands and sensitive coastal dune forests.
MSR is accessible by 4×4 vehicle only. Tourists can find accommodation at the exclusive Anvil Bay Lodge on the coast, or opt for a rustic camping experience in the Reserve, where they can enjoy both the wilderness of the forests and the marine life found in the crystal clear ocean.
In 2018 the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development and PPF signed a partnership and co-financing agreement for the joint development of MSR and the adjoining Ponta de Ouro Partial Marine Reserve as an extension of the partnership agreement that began in 2006.