A 20-year-old elephant has been successfully translocated in KwaZulu Natal from Tembe Elephant Park to the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve in an effort to strengthen the elephant gene pool.

The move was a collaboration between WILDLANDS – a programme of the WILDTRUST – the Aspinall Foundation in partnership with Albus Environmental, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Conservation Solutions.

This isn’t the first effort for elephant conservation by community game reserves in the province. In 2016 to extend elephant range and distribution, 13 elephants were moved from Nambiti Game Reserve to the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve.

Established in 1983, Tembe Elephant Park protects the last remaining herds of free-roaming elephants in South Africa known as the ‘Great Tuskers’.

Somkhanda Community Game Reserve, the new home of the great tusker, is owned by the Emvokweni Community Trust, which was established in 2005 through formal land claims and declared a protected area in 2011.

The introduction of this new bull will strengthen the gene pool of the current herd at Somkhanda. “The Great Tuskers of Tembe are known all over the world as majestic giants. Bringing a Tembe elephant into Somkhanda’s herd will enable the continuation of the Tembe Tusker lineage in this reserve. This will not only be a massive boost for tourism here, but also contribute to conservation efforts of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in Tembe Elephant Park. We are very proud to play a little role in support of this,” said CEO of WILDTRUST, Roelie Kloppers.

Translocating big game requires a lot of patience, skill and technical support, which was provided by Conservation Solutions. “Community-driven conservation plays an essential role in the protection and restoration of flagship species such as elephant. A project like this highlights the potential for communities to collaborate in the restoration of wildlife biodiversity,” said Founder of Conservation Solutions, Kester Vickery.

The Somkhanda team on the ground have reported that this bull is settling in well in his new environment. They remain hopeful that he will soon be welcomed into the Somkhanda herd to infuse its population with the genes of the ‘Tembe Giants’ for generations to come.

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