UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve

© Colchester ZooMission:
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, kudu, warthog, blesbok, servals, ostrich, leopard tortoises, African rock pythons, spotted hyena, leopard, black-backed jackal and caracal

Location: Colenso, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Support started: 2005

Find out more about our work with project through our annual report: 


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.

© Colchester Zoo

Achievements: A variety of species have been released so far into the first conservation area, Elworthy farm. 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.

In 2013, the maintenance team managed to complete the fencing on the other two farms of UmPhafa; Geluk and Vertrek. This is fantastic news for the reserve, as it means that all of the reserve is now protected. Game capture teams then arrived on UmPhafa to start translocating some of the species; including zebra, giraffe, blesbok and waterbuck from our main farm area; Elworthy, to these other two areas. All animals settled in well in their new home and we hope they breed soon.

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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Action for the Wild is Colchester Zoo’s charitable arm

Action for the Wild became a charity in 2004

Action for the Wild has donated over £1.5 million to animal conservation to date