Kruger elephants off to Mozambique

19 September 2008

South Africa is sending six elephant bulls from the Kruger National Park to Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, as part of plans to restock the 350 000-hectare park that fell into ruin during Mozambique’s 16-year civil war.

“I trust that this move will further cement the regional conservation role that the Kruger Park has assumed since the establishment of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park,” Kruger National Park MD Bandile Mkhize said at Skukuza this week.

“It will improve the already good working relationship we have with Mozambique.”

The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park includes the Kruger Park, the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park.

Transported by road

The restoration of Gorongosa is being supported by non-profit US conservation organisation the Carr Foundation, which has recently signed a 20-year co-management agreement with the Mozambican government to run the park. To date, the Carr Foundation has invested over US$10-million (about R81-million) in the park.

The South African National Parks Veterinary Wildlife Services’ game capture team, led by Dr Markus Hofmeyr, captured four young adult elephant bulls in the southern area of the park this week, and will capture two adult elephant bulls next week.

“We will be using our standard elephant capturing technique of darting the elephants from a helicopter and, after a brief diagnosis of their general health, they’ll be loaded onto trucks and transported by road to Gorongosa,” Hofmeyr explained.

Private game capture company Specialist Game Services will then transport the elephants to Gorongosa National Park near the Mozambican coastal town of Beira, a distance of over 1 300km.

Elephant population control

Meanwhile, the 2008 Kruger Park elephant population census is currently under way. Last year’s census revealed a total of 13 050 elephant in the park.

Translocating elephants is one way in which the park is attempting to control elephant numbers, while heated debates continue over the ethics of reintroducing culling.

“According to the Elephant Population Norms and Standards Document, which was released earlier this year, translocation is an acceptable means of population control,” Mkhize said. “I therefore believe that by helping to re-establish viable elephant populations in other areas, we are not only bringing slight relief to our situation but also helping to repopulate depleted populations elsewhere on the sub continent.”

The elephant translocation is just one project where the Kruger National Park and Gorongosa National Park are working together for conservation. Fifty buffalo were translocated from the Skukuza Boma Complex to Gorongosa during 2006 and these will be joined by another consignment of buffalo during 2009.

Source: BuaNews