Makalali Nature Reserve to introduce 45 disease-free African buffalo to the safari destination
Going on a safari does not only offer sightings of the wild's most attractive animals, but each animal group also has many interesting stories waiting to be heard.
One South African destination that boasts such stories is the Greater Makalali Nature Reserve (GMNR) in Hoedspruit, especially when they introduce 45 disease-free African buffalo to the area.
The story began under a year ago when a strategic breeding effort 10-years in the making finally came to fruition. aha Makalali Private Game Lodge, which is based in the area, and GMNR banded together to breed buffalo free of bovine tuberculosis and Foot-and-Mouth disease, which seriously threatened the great African Buffalo population.
To eliminate the disease, a 400-hectare buffalo camp on the borders of Greater Makalali was established, as well as isolated breeding pockets outside the Kruger Park system and associated areas.
In June 2019, the fences around the buffalo camp came down, and after more than half a century of absence from the area, a disease-free herd was released into the reserve, boosting the national buffalo population.
Since the initial release of the herd of 42, the population has grown to around 60, who roam far and wide throughout the expanse of the reserve. Now, a generous donation from local landowner Antony Rogers will see 45 buffalo from a herd on his property be introduced into the GMNR’s newly established population. This will bolster previous conservation efforts from aha Hotels & Lodges and GMNR.
Gary Elmes, Chairman of the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, said the buffalos will be introduced in two increments. He said the first 25 buffalo were translocated from Rogers’ property near Tzaneen to a holding boma on the reserve in May.
Within the next few weeks, the remaining 20 animals will also be translocated to the boma. Once the herd has settled, they will start their new lives in the reserve.
“As little as a year ago, we would have thought it was unprecedented that our buffalo herd would grow to over a hundred animals. Antony’s efforts have made a huge impact on our ecosystem here at the reserve. We look forward to seeing these animals flourish," he said.
aha Hotels & Lodges CEO Graeme Edmond said the lodge looks forward to buffalo sightings in the reserve when we open up to guests soon. "It adds a whole new dimension to the experience," he said.