Samara elephant translocation

Samara Private Game Reserve is a 13,000 ha reserve found on the outskirts of the Great Escarpment in the Eastern Cape. It is a family-run initiative, bought by the Tompkins over 20 years ago. Since then, the land has been given time to recuperate from the intense agricultural farming that previously took place on the farms that make up the reserve. Now, Samara is slowly reintroducing the animal species that used to roam the area before the Europeans arrived.

One of these species is the elephant. Elephants were thought to have traversed this area in the past and have now been returned to the land after an absence of over 100 years. ERP co-sponsored the introduction of a family group with six female elephants to Samara Private Game Reserve. ERP also sponsored the satellite collar on the sub-matriarch and a monitor to oversee the elephants’ adjustments to their new home and help the reserve set up the practical part of their elephant management.


Why and how ERP (plan of action)

On 31 October 2017, the six female elephants were relocated from Kwandwe Private Game Reserve to Samara Private Game Reserve. Once this translocation was complete, ERP provided a full-time elephant monitor, who would stay on the reserve and observe the elephants for a year to ensure that the elephant settle in at Samara.


What are our next steps

The objective at Samara Private Game Reserve is to assist the reserve in managing elephants and ensure that the translocated elephants are settling in well in the reserve.

Our next activities for assisting Samara Private Game Reserve include the following:

  • Full-time elephant monitoring of the elephants’ behaviour.

  • Assisting the reserve in setting up the practical part of their elephant management.

  • Compiling an elephant identification kit with all the relevant information on the elephants.

  • Assess the reserve’s fences and gates and suggest modification to prevent potential human-elephant conflicts.

  • Setting up an elephant impact assessment to measure the elephants’ effect on the reserve’s vegetation.

  • Setting up a beehive programme to protect vulnerable and iconic tree species.

  • Training two graduates from the Tracker Academy in monitoring elephants.

  • Setting up geofences in the monitoring system for the arrival of the planned elephant bull.

  • Assisting the reserve in planning and acquiring one or two elephant bulls.

 

Conclusion

This partnership with Samara is a first for ERP. It was a unique opportunity for ERP to be involved in bringing elephants back to an area, where they have been absent for over a hundred years. In addition, ERP is getting the opportunity to test some new aspects, e.g. beekeeping in the Great Karoo and training of elephant monitors.

Christelle Pretorius