from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
DURBAN – THE Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife urgently needs to translocate some roaming elephants that are worsening long-standing human-wildlife conflict and worsened elephant poaching in the Pongola region.
Ezemvelo is engaging some private reserves with a view of translocating the giant animals back to the reserves they have wandered from.
Another option is to relocate them to any national and international protected areas (PAs) as soon as PAs with adequate carrying capacity have been identified.
This mirrors the problem around the management of the elephant population in the country, amid concerns land is insufficient for the jumbos.
An estimated 69 elephants are roaming Ezemvelo’s Pongola Nature Reserve (PNR).
The elephants first started roaming out of Pongola Game Reserve East (PGRE) to Pongola Nature Reserve around 2015 when the Phongola River dried up.
PGRE is a private game reserve authorised in 1997 to introduce elephants by the then-Natal Parks Board.
By 2016, these PGRE-owned elephants had found their way to the Eastern Shores section of PNR, where they have been multiplying over the years, destroying the PNR biodiversity and causing conflict with local community members.
“Elephants are a big problem, not only in KZN, but in South Africa as a whole,” lamented Ezemvelo, Acting CEO, Siphesihle Mkhize.
“We no longer have sufficient land to keep them. The sooner the land issue for elephants is addressed, the better, as they are also animals that cause many human-wildlife conflicts,” Mkhize said.
Mkhize appealed also to protected areas with extra space for elephants to contact the organisation.
“We will donate the elephants. We have already secured funding from our partners who have already committed to pay for the translocation to any protected area inside or outside of South Africa,” he disclosed.
Ezemvelo will engage the PGRE, for a way forward.
The first batch will probably be translocated in March/April 2023, depending on a new PAs being secured.
It may take more than a year to translocate them outside of the country if no suitable space is available within South Africa.
Mkhize expressed his appreciation to some non-governmental organisations committed to translocating these elephants.
“It would be near impossible for Ezemvelo to undertake the translocation without the involvement of the NGOs.”
According to Ezemvelo, five elephants have been killed over the past six months.
This figure excludes a young elephant that was snared in Eswatini.
– CAJ News