Elephants Released at Gondwana Game Reserve
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
An elephant translocation initiative has been put together by Gondwana Game Reserve, EMOA (Elephant Managers and Owners Association), ETA (Elephant Tourism Association) and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth to release two elephants bulls from semi intensive, confined environments onto Gondwana Game Reserve, a 10,000 hectare reserve located in the Southern Cape.
This relocation has two valuable purposes. Firstly, it releases these elephant into a more natural, sizable habitat allowing them to roam free and forage for themselves. This will be the first free ranging elephant in the Southern Cape since their historical occurrence, other than the phantom Knysna elephants who have eluded people for years.
Secondly, it creates a cutting edge research opportunity utilizing GPS technology to study the elephant’s utilization of a Fynbos reserve. There is virtually no information about elephant resource use in the area, which
limits efforts to restore elephant to these landscapes. The elephant will be equipped with GPS collars in order to have a constant monitoring of their location on the reserve to understand vegetation utilization and space use.
Field work will also be conducted walking with the elephants, which is possible because of their semi-intensive backgrounds, to observe plants eaten and time spent feeding on plant species.
The aim of the study is to gain knowledge about the elephants’ resource use and impacts on the system to inform future elephant management and introductions both in the Southern Cape and on Gondwana Game Reserve. Gondwana’s ultimate goal is to introduce a natural family herd of elephant onto the reserve.
The elephant have been released on Gondwana and are being monitored through their GPS tracking as well as by vehicle and foot daily. They are truly enjoying themselves and covering a large portion of the game reserve.