Since 2018, more than 720 animals have been translocated through a donation from South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to the Ministry of Land and the Environment in Mozambique, supported by Peace Parks Foundation, to restock and rebuild key parks within the Great Limpopo and Lubombo transfrontier conservation areas.
In this way, South Africa’s conservation success contributes to rewilding Africa. But moving wild animals across territories is a logistical challenge, involving huge numbers of experts, big budgets and months and months of planning. It is a delicate operation too, as the sensitivities and sensibilities of the animals need to be taken into consideration. After all, zebra and wildebeest are wild animals that know nothing but the wide-open spaces of the veld. When cajoling them into bomas and trucks, they can be spooked, becoming aggressive and erratic, so it is an extremely dangerous operation. The safety of both animals and humans is paramount.
Kruger is a huge national park (nearly 2 million ha, which is about the size of Colombia!) with plenty of wildlife, so the animals that are to be translocated are first located by aerial reconnaissance missions. Then, a suitable area needs to be found in which to construct a boma and a funnel system made up of a series of ‘curtains’ that will direct the animals from the veld into the boma, and from there into waiting trucks. It takes a couple of days to build, and everything needs to be thought about. An essential element is the wind direction, which needs to point into the funnel and toward the boma. If the zebra or wildebeest smell or spot anything unusual, they can bolt. Believe it or not, word spreads between animals, so capturing them again a day or two later will be extremely difficult and the operation will be compromised.
It is imperative that things happen as fast as possible once the capture process begins, to ensure the animals endure the least amount of stress. To aid the animals once they are captured, they are tranquilised to lower their heart rates and to enable them to cope with the strange situation they find themselves in – being herded into and then transported inside a metal truck.
Behind the scenes cameramen and women document and capture the moments. These will not only record this fascinating story of translocation but will be put to good use to persuade governments and potential partners of the importance of transfrontier conservation. In these critical times for our planet, restoring the biodiversity of vast landscapes is an important step to securing a future for humankind and wildlife.
If you would like to help rewild Africa and be part of the Peace Parks’ mission, you can donate here: www.peaceparks.org/donate.
Remember, it’s not just a gift. You will be making a meaningful difference and impacting the course of conservation history.