Posted April 20, 2015 in Africa
On 17th April 2015 a very special event took place on UmPhafa as 14 Eland antelope were released onto the reserve. Local farmers believe that it is likely these magnificent animals had not roamed the foothills of UmPhafa for around 150 years as sadly they were hunted out.
The name Eland is derived from the Dutch word for Elk or Moose and they are the largest antelope in the world with males weighing up to 900kg. They are characterised not only by their huge bulk but by their long spiralled horns, large dewlap, which is the hanging skin around the neck and the clicking sound made by males as they walk. There has always been great debate as to why the males make this sound but recent studies have determined that the louder the sound the more dominant the male.
Elands are gregarious animals which means that they are social and will often be seen in large herds. These groups can consist of large female herds with young and smaller bachelor herds. The males are not territorial but there will certainly be a pecking order within groups. They feed on grasses and leaves but are known to also eat fruits for additional moisture and nutrients and will often use their long horns to pull down branches that would normally be out of reach.
The group on the reserve consists of 1 adult male, 1 sub adult male, 2 juvenile males, 6 adult females and 4 juvenile females. This is a balanced group that will allow growth of the population. The animals were introduced from a local reserve which means that they are already adapted to the habitat and immune to diseases that animals from outside the region would not be. We hope that over the coming years we will see our herd expand and recreate a little of what had been lost from this area for many years.