Speaking to IOL following claims that at least nine elephants and a herd of buffalo had escaped in recent weeks, Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo said there were measures in place to prevent animals from making their way out of the park.
It was recently reported that the large animals had been seen roaming near Cengeni Gate. Other reports alleged that the animals had destroyed a home and trees in a neighbouring village.
On Tuesday, Mntambo clarified that there were no elephants roaming outside the park.
He said on February 7, they received a call to say elephants had been seen near the community.
“We went on foot to track the elephants but could not find them. We then saw five elephants roaming and, using a helicopter, were able to get them back into the park,” he said.
Mntambo said the recent heavy rainfall had damaged part of a fence that runs through a river in the park.
“There is no one way that these animals get out. In this instance, we suspect the fence was damaged and heavy trees could have floated down on the river and when the fence broke down, the elephants used this to escape,” he said.
Mntambo added that the elephants could have escaped to search for marula trees.
“We are in marula season currently and there might be elephants trying to find these trees which are situated outside the park. You will find that the elephants will push themselves against the fence until it comes down and that’s how they escape,” Mntambo said.
Last year, the fence at Cibilenyathi Gate was damaged during a protest.