The Kruger National Park is relocating animals to the Zinave National Park in Mozambique, with several hundred animals already moved.
Zinave is a component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. Most of the wildlife was decimated during the country’s civil war between 1977 and 1992. The Peace Parks Foundation has been re-wilding the park over the last few years in conjunction with partner countries and conservation agencies.
Various species have and are still being reintroduced including elephants, blue wildebeest, impala, cape buffalo, kudu, giraffe, zebra and waterbuck. So far, around 100 blue wildebeest, 50 zebras and 300 impalas have been relocated from Kruger, representing more than half of the total planned to be moved.
Capturing the animals involves setting up a blind that funnels into pens where the animals are corralled and then herded into game trucks. Herds are spotted by helicopter and herded by one of SANParks four Squirrel helicopters. This involves extremely low and slow flying.
According to Grant Knight, Sanparks chief pilot, game capture is some of the world’s most dangerous flying and for this reason only one pilot flies in the helicopter in case something goes wrong. He said that game capture mostly involves flying in the ‘dead man’s curve’ where the helicopter is low, slow, out of ground effect and, in order to effectively herd animals, downwind.
Once the animals have been captured and tranquilised, they are driven to Zinave, which takes about 24 hours.
A new digital radio system has been installed in the park to enable communication across the expanse of the park and link into the new Anti-Poaching Operations Control room. SANParks said rangers have also been trained in strategic patrol planning and equipped with Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) tracking systems. To further assist the staff, access roads are being upgraded and equipment, such as vehicles, trucks, motorbikes and an aircraft, have been purchased.