2021 has seen many wild animals moved across Africa by Peace Parks Foundation and partners. These translocations are, as you may well know, a useful part of conservation and rely on the collaboration, dedication and immensely hard work of many like-minded partners.
Often, animals are moved from an area over-populated with that species to one that has very few or none of the species living in the landscape. Sometimes, the purpose is to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, such as when buffalo were moved from Naamacha, just outside Maputo Special Reserve, earlier this year. Other times translocation is a crucial step in restoring balance to a damaged ecosystem. For example, moving a family herd of elephants from the Maputo River landscape into Zinave National Park is helping to open up the thick, overgrown grassland here, which allows smaller animals to get in and graze. This sets off a whole chain reaction which assists in the reparation of the ecosystem.
Dr. João Almeida, wildlife veterinarian and founder of the Mozambique Wildlife Alliance, is part of a team of wildlife vets (including Dr. Hugo Pereira and Dr. Hagnesio Chiponde) that are experts in translocations and who have been working with Peace Parks Foundation for many years. Although, as a process, translocations are common in conservation, no two are ever the same. The territory, the team, the animal species, the weather, the infrastructure…there are so many variables it remains a tricky operation every time. Furthermore, working with wild animals means that nothing is ever 100% safe or predictable. As far as the development of wildlife reserves goes, Mozambique is still in its infancy. With large tracts of wild land that have to be navigated by small teams of people who are building their expertise, it means pioneering translocation techniques are often in play.
It is important to note that the real success of any translocation can only be assessed months if not years later. Success might be considered as the animals settling well in their new location, perhaps remaining there through one complete rainy and dry season. The other marker of success is when the animals start to breed, showing that they feel safe and content in their new environment. In the end translocation, like nature, is as much an art as it is a science.
Keep watching PeaceParks.TV in 2022 to see even more incredible translocations. Next up…the illusive leopard!
Peace Parks would like to make a special thanks to all those who have been involved in translocations this year. This includes the wildlife veterinarians, pilots, logistics experts, the ground teams, everyone at HQ, the institutions, governments, partners, officials, corporations and of course, the generous donors.