The annual mass capture of plains game for release into the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) was finalised between June 8 and 21 this year. The Sanparks veterinary wildlife services section, with the assistance of the Kruger central regional rangers, captured most game from Kruger’s Satara area. According to Marius Kruger, operations coordinator for VWS, the team captured 258 zebra, 105 blue wildebeest, 64 impala, 11 waterbuck and 21 giraffe. |
Due to mechanical problems with equipment, the impala capture could not be completed and has been postponed pending a suitable time later in the year. Markus Hofmeyr, head of the veterinary wildlife services department, says the annual mass capture programme began in 2001 with the capture of 25 elephant that were released in the Limpopo National Park (LNP), of which most returned to Kruger after about six weeks to 18 months. “Interestingly one of the herds, which did not have its collar removed returned to Mozambique where she is still roaming the LNP,” says Markus. The other herds had their collars removed after they returned to Kruger so it is not certain if they too returned to Limpopo NP.
“This is exactly what we had hoped for,” says Markus. The first elephants were released directly into the main park. From 2002 the elephants were released in the fenced sanctuary inside the LNP. Also in 2002, Sanparks initiated the mass capture of plains game and released the animals in the sanctuary as well.After the official opening of the Giriyondo tourism access facility, sections of the fence between Kruger and the LNP have been taken down, a plan which authorities hoped would encourage the natural movement of animals between the two national parks. To date Sanparks has relocated more than 4000 animals. “All indicators show that the animals have adapted to the new distribution patterns and populations in LNP are looking healthy,” says Markus.
“The fact that the animals are able to move within a bigger reserve and become part of a bigger system is better for the overall system resilience,” says Markus. “The cooperative project between Mozambique and South Africa has been a huge success in terms of developing transfrontier parks.”