‘We no longer have sufficient land to keep them,’ says Ezemvelo as 69
elephants roam out of their territory
Jolene Marriah-Maharaj, IOL News
January 19, 2023
South Africa does not have enough land to keep elephants and this has led
to many human-wildlife conflicts, says Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife acting CEO
“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.”
Ezemvelo said it had intervened in the long-standing human-wildlife
conflict caused by the elephants that came from the private Pongolo Game
Reserve East (PGRE).
At least 69 elephants roam Ezemvelo’s Phongola Nature Reserve (PNR).
“The ongoing human-wildlife conflict in that area has contributed to the
rise of elephant poaching incidents,” said Musa Mntambo, Ezemvelo’s
He said the elephants first started roaming out of PGRE to PNR around 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, discussions aimed at finding an amicable
resolution to this problem, which would have resulted in the PGRE catching
and relocating these elephants back to their property, have failed. To
date, there has been some reluctance by the PGRE to relocate the elephants
to their facility.”
Mntambo said recent discussions were held with several NGOs, among them
Conservation Solutions and the Aspinall Foundation.
Ezemvelo would engage the PGRE, who owned the elephants, to translocate
them back to their property or take them to any national and international
protected areas (PAs) as soon as PAs with adequate carrying capacity for
elephants had been identified.
“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 the country if no suitable space is available within the country.”
He said both organisations had further committed to doing an elephant count
next week and checking if any crime scenes might need to be identified.
“Contrary to various media reports alleging the slaughter of elephants at
PNR, Ezemvelo is aware of only 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.
Ezemvelo has engaged the community, through its traditional authority and
various stakeholders, to discuss the recent human-wildlife conflict
affecting areas adjacent to the PNR, like Galweni, Mpondwana and Mombeni.