A very common problem in South Africa’s smaller reserves is “too many” elephants. It may seem counterintuitive when we hear daily of elephants threatened with extinction...
A very common problem in South Africa’s smaller reserves is “too many” elephants. It may seem counterintuitive when we hear daily of elephants threatened with extinction, but it is the sad reality in many reserves here in SA. 10,000 hectares may sound big with vast open plains and densely wooded areas. But it is too small to have elephants on over an extended period, especially when that area is fenced-in, and natural movements are restricted. This is also the case at Mabalingwe Nature Reserve in Limpopo Province where ERP recently started operations.
ERP was contacted by the concerned reserve management. Their plight is also sadly becoming more common. They have “too many” elephants, and now a group of five young bulls seem to have reached an age where they are testing their strength and cunning ways against the reserve’s infrastructure. Water tanks seems to be a favourite pastime occupation. They have been deemed ‘problematic’ by management.
We have entered an agreement with them and have employed an ERP elephant monitor, Josh Frost, to the reserve. Josh is there now, tracking and monitoring the elephants every day, and finding out what is happening on the ground. Early next month, we will deploy satellite collars on some of the younger bulls. These collars will help us monitor their movements 24/7, determine their favourite areas and determine who is causing trouble. We will be able to set up virtual geofences and a warning system to prevent conflicts. All this information is vital for us to keep them safe.
Photos by Josh Frost