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The tusk at hand: SA begins great elephant trek

Owing to an overpopulation of elephants at its Limpopo nature reserve, diamond producer De Beers has opted to relocate 200 elephants to Mozambique.

The elephants will make a journey of 1 500km from De Beers-owned Venetia Nature Reserve — which currently has 270 elephants — to state-owned Zinave National Park in central Mozambique, making it the largest elephant translocation ever recorded in South Africa.

The first phase of the project will see 60 tranquilised elephants transported between July and August this year. The remaining 240 elephants will be relocated throughout 2019.

Zinave national park was established in the 1960s and covers over 408 000 hectares — which is enough land to carry a large elephant population — compared to Venetia’s 32 000 hectares.

Zinave national park lost much of its wildlife during Mozambique’s 15-year civil war, and has a population of only 60 elephants.

De Beers’ remaining 240 elephants will be moved to conservation areas around the country which have “sufficient elephant carrying capacity”, the company noted in a statement.

De Beers will also be donating $500 000 over the next five years to NGP Peace Parks Foundation — which specialises in trans frontier conservation and co-manages Zinave national park— to combat poaching in Mozambique.

The anti-poaching measures will include hiring and training new park rangers.

“There is no greater symbol of Africa than the majestic elephant. For us to be able to help secure their future in Mozambique, while also ensuring other species at our Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve can flourish, is something every employee of De Beers Group is proud of,” De Beers Group CEO Bruce Clever said in a statement.

“This translocation is born of a deep sense of responsibility and is part of our wider commitment to continue to invest in new and innovative ways to protect the natural world.”

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