Warning! Elephants from out of the province on the loose in northern KZN
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife puts down five elephants due to danger posed to communities
Communities residing around Ndumo Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal have been warned about elephants entering the province from neighbouring areas which could pose a significant risk to humans.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife asked communities to remain vigilant and report any sightings of elephants in their area to the authority, without engaging with the animals.
According to Ezemvelo, these elephants traditionally follow a migration route spanning parts of Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa.
Ezemvelo said historically this elephant movement included Tembe Elephant Park (TEP), which did not pose any concerns or risks due to TEP's suitable elephant habitat and perimeter fencing designed to contain elephants.
However, a recent deviation from this pattern involves elephants entering South Africa through the northern boundary of Ndumo Game Reserve, which, unlike TEP, lacks suitable elephant habitat and fencing to confine elephants.
Consequently, elephants move freely through Ndumo, causing damage to property and crops on community land.
Ezemvelo acting CEO Sihle Mkhize said five elephants recently walked out of the southern boundary into community land despite efforts to push them back into Ndumo.
Mkhize said the elephants wandered off 16km south and became an extreme risk to human life. He said they had to be destroyed by Ezemvelo staff in terms of a standing permit issued by the provision of the National Environment Management Biodiversity Act.
“Our monitoring work has observed exponential growth of this movement into Ndumo Game Reserve in the past seven days, which has triggered a need for a concerted effort with partners to resolve the matter speedily.
Given the current fluidity of the situation, there is always the risk that they may rapidly move out of the Ndumo Game Reserve and become a risk to property, crops and human lifeSihle Mkhize, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife acting CEO
“To this end, we are working with stakeholders in Mozambique, Mpumalanga and South Africa, including through consultation with local traditional structures to ensure that this matter is resolved and that these elephants are eventually moved out of Ndumo Game Reserve,” said Mkhize.
Given that this migration into Ndumo is a new phenomenon, Mkhize said several steps are being undertaken to manage the situation, including rapid assessment to:
- establish the actual numbers of the population inside the reserve; and
- confirm the factors influencing this diversion from the original migration route to enhance management’s adaptive action.
“We can confirm there are still elephants in the Ndumo Game Reserve, and Ezemvelo will do all it can to ensure the safety of both the affected communities and elephants.
“Given the fluidity of the situation, there is always the risk that they may rapidly move out of the Ndumo Game Reserve and become a risk to property, crops and human life.”
Elephant-induced human-wildlife conflict is generally increasing in South Africa, he said, with an increase in incidents around protected areas such as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Ithala Game Reserve and Kruger National Park. Some have posed a great risk to human wellbeing, such as an escape last year involving Pongola Private Game Reserve elephants which crossed the border between eSwatini and Pongola in South Africa.
Mkhize said this highlights what is a broad South African issue that requires critical discussion to explore all available options in the elephant management toolbox, including sustainable utilisation.
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