23 July 2018

Africa: De Beers to Relocate 200 Elephants From South Africa to Mozambique

Photo: Pexels
(file photo).

The diamond producer has said its reserve in South Africa is overpopulated with the pachyderms. The move could boost the elephant population in Mozambique, which has one of the highest rates of poaching for ivory.

Diamond producer De Beers has begun relocating 200 elephants from its private reserve in South Africa to neighboring Mozambique, where wildlife populations were badly ravaged by a civil war.

De Beers said the number of elephants at its South African reserve was very high and that the overpopulation meant "risking extensive damage to an ecosystem that must sustain a diverse wildlife population."

The Anglo American unit said its 32,000-hectare (80,000-acre) Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve could support about 60 elephants but now had more than 270.

The elephants are being moved Zinave National Park in central Mozambique, some 1,500 kilometers (1,000 miles) away.

The mammoth operation will include the movement of tranquilized elephants over long distances by road.

The relocation is expected to give a major boost to efforts to restore the elephant population in Mozambique, where the world's largest land mammals have been pushed to the brink of extinction mainly due to some of the highest rates of poaching for ivory.

The wildlife population in Mozambique also suffered greatly during and after a 15-year civil war that ended in 1992.

'Achieving our dream'

De Beers said the 408,000-hectare Zinave National Park was currently home to 60 elephants, far fewer than what it can accommodate.

The relocation is being assisted by the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) conservation group. The diamond producer said it will donate $500,000 (€428,000) to PPF to boost its anti-poaching efforts in Mozambique.

"Ecosystems require a range of fauna and flora to stay balanced. If you remove one species, such as elephant, it has a ripple effect on the whole system," said Werner Myburgh, the chief executive of the PPF.

"The reintroduction of elephants to Mozambique will bring us one step closer to achieving our dream of restoring the landscape."

PPF will ensure the elephants' social groups aren't disturbed and that they flourish in their new habitat.

De Beers said about 60 elephants will be transported in July and August this year. The remaining elephants will be moved to parks that have enough space to support them from next year.

ap/se (Reuters)

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