The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) last week received the largest ever donation of wildebeest and eland which were donated by the international conservation organization SAVE. The 500 animals consisting of about 400 wildebeest and 100 eland were successfully translocated over a range of about 140km from Grassland Safari into the CKGR. Explaining the reason for the relocation Willie De Graf of Grassland Safari said that it was an opportunity to put the animals back into the wild. He thanked SAVE for seeing the need to assist in this endeavor and also thanked the other sponsors who made this operation successful.
The successful translocation which happened over a number of days required collaboration from several sponsors. The transportation, capturing and release of animals was sponsored by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China at a cost of about P200 000. 00, an additional P108 000.00 was provided by Tlhokomela Trust, the trucks transporting the animals were provided by Grassland Safari. The Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ veterinary officers and law enforcement staff were also present to ensure that the animals were captured and transported safely, as well as making sure that they are relocated to the appropriate locations.
The animals were released in three areas within the CKGR, namely Motopi, Piper Pan and Xade. Explaining the reason behind choosing the different locations, with some being more than 70km apart, the DWNP research officer Ms. Kelebogile Ditshego said that this was to avoid congestion and overgrazing in one area. Spreading the animals around the game reserve will ensure sustainability of the grazing land and the ecosystem.
The Chinese Ambassador Mr. Zheng who witnessed a full day of the capturing and release of the animals, appreciated the whole process and admired the professional job being done by Wildlife Capture Botswana. Explaining the process Mark Prangley of WCB said that for wildlife capture to go well, nature and science have to be in sync. He elaborated that the wind direction and temperature have a big impact on whether capturing is successful or not.
On this particular day, they were in sync and enabled capturing which started in the morning around 0730hrs and went on until 1100hrs. The team then took off for the CKGR, travelling about 70 km in the sandy road to Xade. Upon arrival a boma was set up, into which the animals were released, and allowed to rest for a brief period before the boma was opened and they were released into the large, open, wild grassland. Close by was a solar powered borehole, pumping water into a nearby watering hole. Also close by was a lion, watching the whole process with interest and from time to time attempting to chase the new arrivals.
At the end of the relocation exercise, Mr. Willie De Graaf thanked everyone for taking part in the exercise and said that he hoped that other farmers will also do the same and give back game to the country as they had gotten most of the game from the government.
The Chinese Ambassador expressed his thanks to the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism, and Mr. De Graaf and also emphasized the need for more farmers to give back to the reserves to enrich them. He also appreciated the good work done by Mark Prangley and his company.
He said that this was the first time that the Chinese Embassy has collaborated with the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, and also expressed hope that there will be other collaborations with the Ministry. He thanked the Minister and the PS for the opportunity. The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism, Mr. Felix Monggae thanked all who had taken part in the relocation, he thanked SAVE, the Chinese Embassy and Tlhokomela Trust, as well as the capturing team for a job well done. He emphasized the point that all the release points had solar powered boreholes.