Ezemvelo to relocate 69 stray elephants to its territory
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo) will seek all possible solutions to solve the problem of 69 elephants roaming around Phongola Nature Reserve (PNR) owned by Ezemvelo. The decision was taken to prevent possible poaching.
Elephants first started roaming from Pongola Game Reserve East (PGRE) to Phongola Nature Reserve around 2015 when the Phongola River dried up. PGRE is a private reserve where Natal Park Board allowed elephants to be introduced in 1997. By November 2016, these PGRE-owned elephants had migrated to the PNR East Coast section, where they have been breeding for years.
Over the last few years, discussions aimed at finding an amicable solution to this issue, whereby PGRE would catch and relocate these elephants back to its territory, have been unsuccessful. At present day, the PGRE is unwilling to relocate the elephants back to its territory.
After recent discussions with several non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including Conservation Solutions and the Aspinall Foundation, Ezemvelo will propose to PGRE, which owns these elephants, to relocate them back to its territory or move them to any national and international protected areas (PAs) as soon as PAs with sufficient carrying capacity for the elephants are identified. The first batch is likely to be relocated in March/April 2023 if new protected areas are identified. The relocation outside the country could take more than a year if no suitable site can be found in the country.
Both NGOs have made commitments to fund the relocation and to share expertise and resources during the relocation. Conservation Solutions is a well-known organisation that specialises in translating all kinds of animals, large and small. Aspinall Foundation is a world-class organisation on protecting endangered animals around the world.
Ezemvelo, the acting CEO, Mr Siphesihle Mkhize expressed appreciation to the various NGOs involved in the transfer of these elephants. "The success of conservation in the province also depends on the positive role played by NGOs and the private sector. It would have been almost impossible for Ezemvelo to carry out the relocation without the involvement of the two organizations NGOs. We have already received funding from our partners who have pledged to pay for the transfer of the elephants to any protected area inside or outside South Africa".
Conservation Solutions has a long history of collaboration with Ezemvelo. In recent years, both organisations have transported animals such as rhinos, giraffes and elephants to the national territory and across the border in South Africa.
Ezemvelo has already engaged the local community through its traditional authorities and various stakeholders in discussions about recent human-wildlife clashes affecting areas adjacent to the PNR, such as Galweni, Mpondwana and Mombeni. These ongoing negotiations also involve various units of SAPS such as the Water Wing of SAPS and the National Intervention Unit, who have stated their willingness to enforce law and order in the PNR.
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