Tuskers Pack Trunks

Two elephant bulls – bringing the total number of elephants at Somkhanda Community Game Reserve to 13 – are settling into their new home this week after being translocated from another local reserve. 

The elephants were donated by Nambiti Private Game Reserve, another KZN community-owned game reserve in Ladysmith, and this, said environmental stewardship body Wildlands Conservation Trust in a statement, was the first time two rural communities had worked together to extend the elephant range. 

The Somkhanda reserve – the elephants’ new home as of Tuesday – owned by the Emvokweni Community Trust (ECT) and co-managed with the Wildlands Conservation Trust, was established in 2005 and declared a protected area in 2011.

“Wildlands and the trust worked with Elephants, Rhinos and People ('ERP') over the past year to identify a suitable herd for Somkhanda. ERP, supported by Groupelephant.com, identify elephant herds that are under threat due to population pressures and fine them new homes,” said the Wildlands Conservation Trust.

Dereck Milburn, director of operations at ERP, said: “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 them and communities 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. Creating a herd where there has not been elephant for the past 70 years is history in the making.”

The organisation said under suitable conditions, elephants could breed rapidly, with populations in fenced reserves often becoming larger than is ecologically sustainable.

“Such was the case at Nambiti, which recognised the need to reduce their population size… When introducing elephants, it is important to introduce an entire breeding herd, as they have a strong social and family structure that needs to be maintained at all times,” said Milburn. 

“Conservation Solutions, recognised globally for their expertise in elephant capture and translocation, were contracted to manage the capture and relocation process.” 

Wildlands chief executive Dr Andew Venter said: “Africa’s elephants are under threat, with over 100 being poached every day. 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.”

Read the article on erp.ngo.