Elephants return to the Plains of Camdeboo

The introduction of a herd of elephant to Samara Private Game Reserve has marked a conservation milestone as these animals return to their historic range, entrenching Samara’s status as one of the most significant conservation areas in the Karoo. The herd that has been introduced to Samara comprises a small family group of six elephant. Once they are settled, they will be joined by a mature bull. In time, another small family group may also be introduced.                   

Sarah and Mark Tompkins, founders of Samara Private Game Reserve, explain that when they first established the reserve in 1997, their aim was to restore the area to the wildlife haven it had been before species like cheetah, rhino, Cape lion, springbok and elephant were eradicated by early farmers and settlers. “This is an extremely important area from an ecological point of view,” Sarah explains, adding that the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Thicket, where Samara’s 27,000 hectares of scenic wilderness are located, has been designated as one of the world’s 36 Global Biodiversity Hotspots. Samara, the largest private game reserve in the Eastern Cape and comprising four vegetation biomes, acts as a crucial catalyst for protecting the delicate and diverse ecosystem of the Great Karoo, as the Tompkins work to create a system of corridors and partnerships that will result in the creation of the third largest protected area in South Africa. 

The translocation of Samara’s elephants was undertaken by wildlife capture specialist Kester Vickery of Conservation Solutions, and was partially funded by the NGO Elephants, Rhinos & People and the Friends of Samara. It was also supported by Wilderness Foundation UK.