Jumbo translo­ca­tion starts

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Leonard Ncube in Hwange Na­tional Park

THE Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Author­ity (ZimParks) has started translo­cat­ing ele­phants from Hwange Na­tional Park to Chizarira Na­tional Park, to ease the im­pact of drought in the for­mer.

There are more than 45 000 ele­phants in Hwange Na­tional Park, the coun­try’s biggest game re­serve, against a car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of about 18 000.

ZimParks started cap­tur­ing the jum­bos yes­ter­day and hopes to move 100 for now and mon­i­tor how they adapt to the new en­vi­ron­ment be­fore more can be moved.

Hwange Na­tional Park re­lies on ar­ti­fi­cial pump­ing of bore­hole wa­ter for wildlife con­sump­tion while Chizarira, whose pop­u­la­tion has re­port­edly been de­creas­ing over the years, has nat­u­ral sources.

More than 10 sub-adult ele­phants had been cap­tured yes­ter­day and are be­ing kept in pens at Mt­shibi Camp, near Hwange Main Camp be­fore trans­porta­tion.

Wildlife man­ager and ecol­o­gist, Mr Ray Mak­wehe, who is lead­ing the process, said it costs about $2 000 to cap­ture one ele­phant.

“We are do­ing translo­ca­tion of ele­phants as we de­stock this area to Chizarira Na­tional Park whose pop­u­la­tion has gone down due to poach­ing.

“The process in­volves mo­bil­is­ing re­sources in terms of fuel, man­power and also check­ing on the des­ti­na­tion whether there are hold­ing camps. Here we have Mt­shibi Camp where those cap­tured are be­ing kept. We are tar­get­ing sub adults and we will also cap­ture a few big­ger fe­males as we want 100 for now,” said Mr Mak­wehe.

Yes­ter­day ZimParks rangers were busy track­ing ele­phant herds us­ing a heli­copter. They would se­date their tar­gets and load them into mo­bile cages to the hold­ing pens where they are in­jected with a tran­quiliser to re­verse the se­da­tion.

Mr Mak­wehe said there was too much pres­sure on wa­ter sources as a re­sult of the big­ger ele­phant pop­u­la­tion in Hwange Na­tional Park, as one jumbo drinks more than 200 litres a day.

“This time of the year there are so many ele­phants com­ing to wa­ter holes and that ex­erts too much pres­sure on wa­ter sup­ply hence this move is drought re­lated,” he said.

e jum­bos will be kept in the pens for about two months when they would have got­ten ac­cus­tomed to the pens and be trans­ported to their new per­ma­nent sanc­tu­ary.

Ms Love­later Se­bele, also an ecol­o­gist said af­ter as­sess­ing game parks, they found Chizarira Na­tional Park a suit­able habi­tat.

“We did an en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ment to look at hab­it­abil­ity in terms of trees and wa­ter to see if they can sus­tain the pop­u­la­tion. We will start with 100 on a trial run and then maybe the pop­u­la­tion will grow.

“The huge pop­u­la­tion at Hwange Na­tional Park is af­fect­ing other species as ele­phants bully smaller species for wa­ter.”

VP Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa

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