Makalali Game Reserve’s Buffalo Breeding Programme Triumphs
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.
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.
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.