actively contributing to conservation

july 2018


ERP Achieves Monumental Translocation of 53 Elephants, from South Africa to Mozambique


During the first week of July 2018, Elephants, Rhinos and People (ERP) successfully completed a historic translocation of 53 elephants from two game reserves in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, to Zinave National Park in Mozambique. The elephants were secured and transported over 1,250km to Zinave, part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.

The relocation program is designed to obviate the need for population control measures in at-risk elephant herds in South Africa, whilst contributing to the re-establishment of elephant populations in areas that can accommodate large numbers of elephants safely. Given the general plight of elephants in Africa, South Africa – somewhat paradoxically, and for myriad reasons – finds itself in a position where elephant populations are outgrowing available space in fenced reserves. Absent a plan to relieve this pressure, culling is all but
unavoidable. Protected areas in Southern Mozambique can be part of the solution and the uMkhuze and Ithala translocation was the beginning of what will become a large-scale exercise.

The capture was conducted in two stages, the first focusing on 29 elephants in the uMkhuze Section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, in late June. The second stage covered 24 elephants in the Ithala Nature Reserve, in early July. Extraordinary care was taken to ensure that family units remained intact and together.

The translocation cleared two border posts and traversed three countries, viz. South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique, making it one of the longest translocations ever carried. The pressure has been relieved on uMkhuze’s and Ithala’s elephant populations, dimishing the specter of culling for the foreseeable future. Zinave’s hitherto tiny elephant population has been significantly boosted with a breeding herd. Zinave is already well-managed and protected by an experienced management team and rangers.

Zinave is co-managed by Peace Parks Foundation and Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC). ERP recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Peace Parks Foundation through which the organization will take on the role of the Foundation’s strategic elephant management partner in Mozambique. 

ERP wishes to thank Conservation Solutions, the Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, for making the operation possible. A special thank you also to the Wild Tomorrow Fund for sponsoring the helicopter costs.

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The following graphic provides an overview of the operation:

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