Ezemvelo addresses ongoing conflict between elephants and residents in
January 19, 2023
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has stepped in to attempt to resolve the
long-standing human-wildlife conflict caused by elephants from the
privately-owned Pongolo Game Reserve East (PGRE).
Ezemvelo’s spokesperson, Musa Mntambo, said Ezemvelo will explore all
possible solutions to resolve the issue of the estimated 69 elephants
roaming Ezemvelo’s Phongola Nature Reserve (PNR).
He said the ongoing human-wildlife conflict in that area has contributed to
the rise of elephant poaching incidents.
Mntambo said the elephants first started roaming out of the privately-owned
game reserve to Ezemvelo’s PNR in 2015 when the Phongola River dried up.
“The PGRE is a private game reserve authorised in 1997 to introduce
elephants by the then-Natal Parks Board.
“By November 2016, these PGRE-owned elephants had found their way to the
Eastern Shores section of PNR, where they have been multiplying over the
years, destroying the PNR biodiversity and causing conflict with community
members who have been using that area.”
Over the past few years, Mntambo said discussions aimed at finding an
amicable resolution to this problem that would have resulted in the PGRE
catching and relocating these elephants back to their property, have failed.
To date, he said there has been some reluctance by the PGRE to relocate the
elephants to their facility.
“Following recent discussions with several non-government organisations,
including Conservation Solutions and the Aspinall Foundation, Ezemvelo will
engage the PGRE, who own these elephants, to translocate them back to their
property or take them to any national and international protected areas
(PAs) as soon as areas with adequate carrying capacity for elephants have
The first batch will probably be translocated in March/April 2023 should
the new PAs be secured. It may take more than a year to translocate them
outside of the country if no suitable space is available within the country.
He said the two NGOs have committed themselves to fund the translocation
and sharing their expertise and resources during translocation.
Conservation Solutions is a well-known organisation specialising in
translocating all species, large or small.
Aspinall Foundation is a world-class animal conservation charity protecting
endangered animals across the globe.
Both organisations have further committed to doing an elephant count next
week and checking if any crime scenes might still need to be identified.
“Contrary to various media reports alleging the slaughter of elephants at
PNR, Ezemvelo is only aware of five crime scenes which it investigated.
This figure excludes a young elephant that was snared in Eswatini. All
these six elephants were killed within the past six months,” said Mntambo.
Ezemvelo’s acting CEO, Siphesihle Mkhize, said elephants are a big problem
not only in KZN, but in South Africa as a whole.
We no longer have sufficient land to keep them. The sooner the land issue
for elephants is addressed, the better, as they are also animals that cause
many human-wildlife conflicts.
“I also appeal to protected areas with extra space for elephants to contact
us. We will donate the elephants. We have already secured funding from our
partners who have already committed to pay for the translocation to any
protected area inside or outside of South Africa.”
Mkhize further expressed his appreciation to various NGOs committed to
translocating these elephants.
“The success of conservation in the province also depends on the positive
role played by the NGOs and private sector. It cannot be that we only see
the NGOs when they are criticising the government. It would be near
impossible for Ezemvelo to undertake the translocation without the
involvement of the two NGOs mentioned above.”
Ezemvelo said it has already engaged the local community through its
traditional authority and various stakeholders to discuss the recent