Regarded as a vital species to most open grassland and wooded landscapes, eland play an important role in these ecosystems by shaping the surrounding natural environment through their browsing and grazing feeding habits. After almost having gone locally extinct, Zinave National Park will now see a founder population of 69 of these spiral-horned antelope in the park. This will help to boost biodiversity and tourism and help further develop the park as an integral component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.
A Rewilding Success Story
After a long-term co-management agreement was signed between Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation, an extensive rewilding programme bolstered biodiversity within Zinave. So far, the efforts have been extremely successful, having introduced more than 2 300 mammals from 15 species into the park – with eland being species number 16.
Zinave’s Project Manager, Bernard van Lente, explains that the eland have been donated by Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary, who, after impressive conservation management efforts, have grown their population beyond its carrying capacity. Further to that, the eland have been straying into community lands, and removing a mega-herd will help to mitigate any potential for human-wildlife conflict. Of the 95 eland being captured, 69 will be translocated to Zinave to create a resident founder population, while 26 will be taken to Maputo National Park to boost the genetics of the current group living in the park.
A Bit About Eland
The largest of the antelope family, the nomadic eland mostly dwells in sparse woodlands and savannah grasslands, where it feeds in the early morning and late afternoons. Its impressive tawny-coloured coat allows it to blend into its surroundings, providing much-needed camouflage from predators such as lion, hyena, and wild dog.
As is the case with many of Africa’s wildlife, the ever-increasing human population and expansion of settlements are encroaching on the elands’ living spaces and destroying their habitat. Not only this, but their nutrient-rich milk, hide, and meat are sought after by many, and as a result, poaching has massively contributed to the decline in its numbers. Thanks to conservation efforts in many southern African countries, including Mozambique, their numbers are starting to thrive in protected areas.
Space To Thrive
With the emphasis placed on Zinave’s counter-poaching units and specialised ranger operations, Peace Parks and partners are incredibly excited to see the reintroduction of this specialised species, where it has both the space and safety to thrive.