UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve
Mission: To create a sustainable future while maintaining social responsibility and promoting environmental regeneration and conservation.
Species: White rhino, zebra, giraffe, red hartebeest, blue wildebeest, nyala, impala, common reedbuck, waterbuck, blesbok, servals, ostrich, leopard tortoises, African rock pythons
Location: Colenso, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Support started: 2005
Background: Colchester Zoo’s charity Action for the Wild is dedicated to researching and conserving animal species all over the world. One of its main priorities is to set up the UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
The reserve is currently made up of three farms. In total, the UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve encompasses 4,000 ha and, with the completion of a fourth farm, will total 5,500ha. Uniquely, the land covers a 1,200 foot gradient from the banks of the Tugela River to the top of mountains and covers a diverse range of ecosystems, including open grassland and bushveldt. Historically, approximately 35 mammalian species inhabited this area, however, due to previous farmland management techniques, many of these native species have disappeared.
Numerous species already inhabit the reserve, including kudu, impala, black-backed jackal, warthog, waterbuck and evidence of leopard and caracal have also been seen. Action for the Wild is now establishing a release programme for the reserve; to rehabilitate the land by returning the native species that have previously disappeared with farming. Action for the Wild will translocate species onto the reserve to recreate the historical mammalian assemblage and to help secure the future of these species.
Achievements: Fourteen species in total have been released so far into the first conservation area, Elworthy farm. These species include serval, zebra, giraffe, red hartebeest, blesbok, waterbuck, common reedbuck, ostrich, African rock pythons, nyala, three white rhinos, leopard tortoises and most recently impala and blue wildebeest. Where possible, species to be released have been transferred from neighbouring farms. Originating from such close proximity means these species will already be adapted to this local environment and will prosper on UmPhafa.
Over the years staff have seen many births especially with the species that have been released. From the 2012 census on the reserve there are now 18 giraffes, 2 of which are young that were born during that year. Zebra have also increased there numbers to around 170. Many of the other hoof stock released like impala and red hartebeest have seen an increase in numbers on the reserve. March 2012 also saw the release of 10 ostrich onto the reserve bring the total number of species released onto UmPhafa to fourteen!
The beginning of 2013 saw some more fantastic news with the birth of the third rhino calve, bringing the total number of rhinos living on the reserve to 6.
Future objectives: Action for the Wild plans to release a variety of other species onto the reserve. In the long term potentially cheetah, hyena and African hunting dog will be released. It is hoped that, in the future, we can breed from these charismatic species, which will change the whole perspective of the park, enabling us to breed endangered species on the reserve.
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