Elephants on the roam in KZN

Elephants in the Ndumo area in northern KwaZulu-Natal were herded back into the game reserve after venturing into a nearby village.

Elephants in the Ndumo area in northern KwaZulu-Natal were herded back into the game reserve after venturing into a nearby village.

Published Jan 27, 2024


Durban — Elephants in KwaZulu-Natal are increasingly breaching wild spaces where they are protected and wandering into nearby villages, raising concerns about human safety in some areas.

Last Saturday conservation NGO WeWild Africa and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife joined up for an emergency rescue when five elephants wandered out of the Ndumo game reserve into the surrounding community.

WeWild Africa director Dereck Milburn said currently there was a lot of human-wildlife conflict and data showed that elephant bulls from the Kruger National Park were moving into southern Mozambique, sometimes killing people, and from there they moved into the Ndumo reserve in KZN.

“The elephants are finding refuge in Ndumo. They are coming across the border, which is very porous. They find themselves in Ndumo, then walk south where they break the fence which is not elephant-proof and then walk through the communities, causing quite a lot of challenges,” said Milburn.

He said the elephants appeared to be following an old migratory route.

Last month, 13 elephants destroyed areas when they moved into an area with lots of people around them.

“So even to try to get a helicopter in to catch them would’ve been difficult, because the elephants would then be pushed into people.

“Ezemvelo didn’t want to shoot those elephants but they were left with no option and the NGOs that were supposed to help them didn’t give them much information,” said Milburn.

He said since then two herds of elephants had entered Ndumo from Mozambique and they had sent a helicopter up at significant cost to chase them back into the reserve and prevent them from being killed.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said they currently had another situation in Pongola where, over the past two weeks, residents had reported seeing elephants walking freely.

Spokesperson Musa Mntambo said one night the elephants were resting on a key road and motorists had to park overnight until the elephants decided to move.

“A number of game reserves in KZN have exceeded the carrying capacity of elephants, both state and private reserves. They breed a lot and the space we have is not enough to carry the amount of elephants that we have.”

He told the Independent on Saturday that last year they had issued a statement inviting game reserve owners to indicate if they had space to accommodate elephants and also offered to relocate them free of charge. However, no one responded to the offer.

Independent on Saturday