To: Customers of Allied Nutrition
20th November 2013
iSimangaliso Wetland Park’s conservation vision
iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first UNESCO world heritage site, borders Mozambique in the north. The Park, which was proclaimed in 1999, amalgamated 16 disparate parcels of land.
The 332 000ha terrestrial and marine park, with 8 interlinking eco-systems, is a unique combination of habitats and biodiversity, and includes 9% of South Africa’s coastline; the entire Lake St Lucia estuarine system as well as both its Western and Eastern Shores; the coral reefs of Sodwana Bay; Kosi Bay and the Coastal Forest Reserve; some of the world’s highest vegetated dunes stretching beyond Maphelane in the south; the largest fresh water lake in South Africa – Lake Sibaya; and uMkhuze game reserve, historically one of the last refuges of rhino during the bleak years of the mid-20th century when most of the country’s rhino population was wiped out by poaching and unrestricted hunting.
Since its inscription, the iSimangaliso Authority has rehabilitated thousands of hectares of land previously under forestry and progressively restored historically occurring animal populations hunted to extinction in the region. The BIG conservation goal is re-establishing the full range of species that historically occurred here, as well as the ancient migratory routes from the heights of the Lebombo Mountains in the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso to the eastern shores of Lake St Lucia and the coastal plains. Several thousand heads of game have been translocated into the Park including cheetah, elephant, buffalo, tsessebe, serval, oribi, black and white rhino, lion, giraffe, wild dog, waterbuck and wildebeest, with eland the last outstanding species still to be brought in.
In 2012, iSimangaliso launched the Rare and Endangered Species Fund, solely dedicated to fund-raise for costs of introductions, monitoring and protection of such species within iSimangaliso. The iSimangaliso Eco-Series events within the park include a compulsory conservation donationtowards this fund, which has also been boosted by various other generous donations received from the public.
With the expansion of the area under fence and patrol, the range for rhino in particular has increased substantially from uMkhuze to the whole Park. Several new populations of black and white rhino have been translocated over the past few years.
iSimangaliso over the past 10 years has established one of the most significant rhino populations in Southern Africa. The current introductions will see the establishment of a black rhino population of continental significance.
As a result of the increasing threat to rhino populations iSimangaliso employs sophisticated monitoring systems and together with our conservation partners Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, has several mechanisms in place to track and support our foot soldiers to better protect these animals from poachers. Due to their highly endangered status and conservation value, black rhinos being introduced all have VHF horn implants inserted in their horns at capture. When resident black rhino are notched we also aim at fitting horn implants. These transmitters, at a landed cost of around R3000 per unit, are sourced from the New Zealand company Sirtrack, acknowledged in the industry for their superior equipment which permits them to be located by monitors on the ground. This is a vital factor in managing this species. In the case of younger animals, foot collars have also been used. White rhino have transponders placed in their horns which enables additional identification of an animal or horn, should it be removed.
Black rhino have been introduced in small batches into various sections of the park from other sections of iSimangaliso OR as part of the WWF Black Rhino Expansion Project from other parks such as Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. White rhino have been sourced from several South African areas to ensure genetic diversity. Some of these rhino have been translocated to iSimangaliso from other parks where they are seen to have been at extremely high risk due to the rates of poaching there.
We wish to thank the customers of Allied Nutrition for their contribution which totals R30 000 to the iSimangaliso Rare and Endangered Species Fund. The funds have been used to cover the costs of the VHF horn implants used in the current rhino relocation programme in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. In doing so, this is a small yet significant step towards securing our rhino populations to be enjoyed by our children and future generations.
Yours in conservation
ANDREW ZALOUMIS – CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER