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Fostering community ties, developing tourism, reducing impacts on the environment and ensuring the survival of elephants was all part of the package when a herd of elephants were translocated from one KZN game reserve to another.
The final two elephants of a herd of 13 were received to their new home in Somkhanda Community Game Reserve in Mkuze on Thursday, 2 March. This herd was donated by another community-owned reserve, Nambiti Private Game Reserve.
Emvokweni Community Trust (ECT) and the Wildlands Conservation Trust, which co-manage Somkhanda worked with Elephant, Rhinos and People (ERP) to identify a suitable herd for the reserve, which has been without the large pachyderms for seven decades.
Reintroducing the elephants to the area not only provides economical and tourism advantages, but re-establishes environmental processes vital in savannah systems.
Supported by Groupelephant.com, ERP identifies elephant herds under threat due to overcrowding. Elephants breed exponentially in favourable conditions, like those found in Nambiti, which can cause problems for the environment and others who live in the vicinity.
“ERP is thrilled to have been able to partner with ECT and Wildlands, in securing a new home for 13 elephants.
We need space for elephants and communities very often have large tracts of land which could be secured for elephant protection. Through this translocation we are alleviating pressure on the elephant population and it is funding well spent. The beauty of this process is undeniable and creating a herd where there has not been elephant for the past 70 years, is history in the making. This community reserve partnership is a model we hope to show other communities – highlighting the value of it and implementing it elsewhere,” said ERP director of operations, Dereck Milburn.
“The introduction of these elephant represents a key milestone for the Emvokweni Community Trust, underwriting their ability to harness and benefit from South Africa’s flourishing wildlife and eco-tourism economies.
Africa’s elephants are under threat, with over 100 being poached every day. Across the continent, communities and conservation organisations are fighting to stop this poaching and save this iconic species from extinction. The Somkhanda introduction represents a small, but incredibly important step in this fight. We look forward to seeing this herd flourish in their new safe haven,” said Wildlands CEO, Dr Andrew Venter.
Nambiti Private Game Reserve chairman, Clarke Smith added: “We at Nambiti are very positive about the move of some of our elephants to Somkhanda. It is a bitter-sweet moment because we love our elephants; but they have bred to a level where they can potentially negatively impact the environment, so it is best that a part of the population is moved to a new home that we are happy with.
Senzo’Kuhle Communal Property Trust chairman, Muhle Khanya said she was happy the animals were moving to a good home.
“Nambiti and the community are partners and they tell us everything that happens here – they do very good things for conservation,” she said.
“Through this initiative a community will be uplifted permanently and a sustainable tourism entity will be created. We love working with Wildlands. They are helping communities thrive in a sustainable way and boosting our country’s tourism at the same time,” added Different.org head of operations, Ryan Sobey.
Jumbo Cash and Carry has recently offered to ‘adopt’ the herd and is providing funding towards the translocation, monitoring the elephants and making sure their collars are maintained, as well as keeping the herd safe and healthy.
“A big thank you to Jumbo Cash and Carry, ERP, Different.org and Nambiti Private Game Reserve for their support in enabling this project. Thanks to the Gumbi community for supporting the introduction of the elephant and acknowledging this as a key development for their game reserve,” said Dr Venter.