After collaborative efforts that have spanned over a decade, Makalali Private Game Reserve and Makalali Private Nature Reserve’s on-site Buffalo Breeding programme has culminated in 52 indigenous African Buffalo being released.
This triumphant moment in conservation was the result of a tireless collaboration between conservation experts, aha Makalali Private Game Lodge and the Greater Makalali Game Reserve.
The great African Buffalo, once widely distributed through Sub-Saharan Africa, was almost driven to extinction throughout southern Africa by the Rinderpest epidemic in the late 1800s. Thankfully, dedicated conservation efforts and the Buffalo’s natural resilience have brought them back in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
The African Buffalo can carry Foot-and-Mouth disease (FM), Corridor disease, and a new threat with potentially widespread implications has now surfaced. In recent years, Bovine Tuberculosis (BTB) has affected a large number of Buffalo in the Greater Kruger system.
Because of the prevalence of BTB, breeding disease-free Buffalo became imperative, and a disease-free Buffalo breeding project began more than a decade ago, in the 400-hectare Buffalo Camp within the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve.
As a result, isolated breeding pockets outside the Kruger Park system and associated areas were established, to ensure that disease was eliminated. These pockets are outside the demarcated “Red Area”.
On Saturday 22nd of June 2019, the fences around the Buffalo Camp finally came down. And the exciting occasion took to the air, with the Buffalo being herded out of the Red Area by helicopter.
Staff and their families – including Gary Elmes, Chairman of the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, and Reserve Warden, Rob Panos – were on-site to see it all happen. Gary commented, “Releasing these magnificent beasts into the Reserve is another great effort by an amazing team of people to strengthen and protect the indigenous Buffalo population that we’d like future generations to see in their natural environment. I’m proud to have been here when the first animals arrived and now 12 years later, to set 52 Buffalos free to roam”.
The Buffalo breeding effort is part of a greater game reintroduction programme for endangered species and species previously extinct to the area. So far, Elephants, Spotted Hyenas, Hippos, Cheetahs, White Rhinos and, most recently, African Wild Dogs, have been relocated onto the 25 000-hectare property.
Over the last 10 years, a number of small species have also been released, including African Wild Cats, Pangolins, Caracals, Cape Clawless Otter, Spotted Genets, Bush Babies and Leopard tortoises.
aha Makalali Main Lodge is a wildlife-centric, luxury ethnic-style retreat in the north-eastern Lowveld. This newly built five-star lodge has 30 comfortable Superior Rooms to choose from, each with their own en-suite bathroom an indoor – and outdoor – shower.
aha Makalali River Lodge comprises three camps that have six luxury suites each. All the camps are private, but within easy access of one another, featuring a plunge pool plus an enclosed dining and lounge area.
Prepare for a unique culinary adventure at aha Makalali Private Game Lodge, with a variety of delectable African cuisine options available on the menu. And take advantage of the truly holistic wildlife experience that Makalali offers – including the great African Buffalo and the rest of the Big Five.
To find out more about aha Makalali Private Game Lodge, visit aha.co.za or call 010 442 5800.
Philippa Harvey Luis
Mobile: 072 879 4077