Translocating one of Africa’s most dangerous animals, the Cape buffalo, is never an easy feat, but when translocating 45 of these ill-tempered bovines across borders using deep sandy roads, it is a challenge that requires many helping hands. Thankfully, translocations of this scale are always a collaborative effort, and despite the team’s fatigue, all hands-on deck ensured that every buffalo was safely offloaded in their new home, Maputo National Park, albeit a bit later than planned.

Located in the Maputo province of Mozambique, Maputo National Park is a vital component of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area. With its wide range of habitats, including mangrove forests, inland wetlands, grasslands, riverine forests and a marine protected area teeming with sea life, this national park holds significant conservation value and tourism potential.

As the park measures just over 2 000 km² – roughly the size of Mauritius – it can sustain many organisms, including these 45 Cape buffalo which are a welcome addition to the existing population within the park. They have been translocated from Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa, a protected area where buffalo are thriving, so much so that their numbers have steadily grown beyond what the park can now handle and therefore are in need of a new home.

The translocation begins smoothly, with all 45 buffalo successfully loaded into the trucks in just a couple of hours. But things soon take an unexpected turn as the team starts to make their way out of Tembe Elephant Park. Due to the recent rains received in the region, the roads have turned to thick sand, which proves troublesome for the heavily loaded trucks.

After many hours of digging, pulling, and exercising extreme amounts of patience, the trucks and their precious cargo finally make it out of the park and head towards the Ponta do Ouro border post, where the next challenge awaits. The team are held up for slightly longer than expected, but after a few hours, the trucks eventually cross the border and begin to make their way to Maputo National Park, located just a short distance away.  

As the trucks finally enter Maputo National Park, they face the same challenge of navigating soft, sandy roads. Still, with coordinated efforts from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Maputo National Park team, the trucks are successfully pulled out of the sand. This continues long into the night.

Despite the unforeseen challenges, the team is happy knowing that these buffalo will contribute to the biodiversity of Africa’s wild spaces. Peace Parks Foundation is grateful for cross-border collaborative efforts and the hard work that goes on behind-the-scenes, making translocations such as these possible.