The City of Cape Town’s Blaauwberg Nature Reserve celebrated a momentous occasion as the last of eight eland were released into the reserve on Wednesday 8 March 2017.
An eland (Taurotragus oryx) that was released into the City’s Blaauwberg Nature Reserve last week is the last of eight eland that were earmarked for translocation from the Koeberg Nature Reserve.
‘The other seven eland were introduced to the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve in December 2016 and in February this year. The animals were donated by the Koeberg Nature Reserve as part of their management of the eland population in that reserve. In September 2016 we also released five red hartebeest in the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve that were obtained from a private game owner,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron.
The release of these animals is part of the reserve’s game introduction management plan that will serve to enhance management of the vegetation cover and other ecological processes. Apart from the red hartebeest (Aloelaphus buselaphus) and eland, grey rhebok (Pelea capreolus) is also earmarked for re-introduction.
‘Thus far, eight eland and five hartebeest have been reintroduced. We plan to release more of the designated species in future, depending on the numbers that can be allowed,’ said Councillor Herron.
The game introduction plan conforms with the historical incidence of larger mammals in the area, a description of the habitat and habitat conditions, suitable species for introduction and species review, habitat and game introduction management implications, and wildlife management and monitoring.
‘The eland and the other large mammals will increase biodiversity in the reserve as their presence will assist other species in appearing. One of the eland has been collared for vegetation and habitat use monitoring within the reserve. Monitoring is critical as we need to ensure that the reintroduced animals also do not impact negatively on the reserve’s critically endangered vegetation types,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Area North, Councillor Suzette Little.
Apart from assisting with the management of vegetation in the reserve, the addition of the eland and red hartebeest will be an added attraction to those visiting the reserve.
The reserve is approximately 2 000 ha in size.
‘It has a rich mosaic of natural, cultural and historical elements and with it being so close to Cape Town, the reserve has the potential to become an open-air classroom that is easily accessible. The reserve also has a self-catering unit which sleeps up to four guests. The unit was designed to be sustainable – photovoltaic panels charge the batteries that provide light, there is a gas stove, fridge and freezer, and an outdoor shower with a gas geyser and a self-composting toilet, which in itself provides for a unique experience,’ said Councillor Little.