Pridelands: The First Elephants

By Pridelands Ecologist Megan Loftie-Eaton

The 28th of September 2017 will go down in the history books as a victory for conservation here in the Lowveld region of South Africa. On this day, almost exactly two weeks after the first bit of fence came down between WildArk’s Pridelands Conservancy and the rest of the Greater Kruger wilderness, the first elephants crossed the boundary onto Pridelands. Six young elephant bulls took the first steps onto Pridelands, and it was a moment that can only be described as breathtaking!

It was a moment that brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy! I was privileged enough to witness and be part of this wonderful and significant moment.

For the first time in over 60 years, elephants crossed the, now fence-less, boundary onto Pridelands. In a world where wildlife and wild places are facing ever increasing pressures and threats from humans, we can proudly say that on the 28th of September a piece of wilderness was given back to nature and the wildlife of Africa. Congratulations and thank you goes to Mark and Sophie Hutchinson, John and Anton Lategan and the whole WildArk team for their hard work in achieving this impressive goal. The elephants are exploring their new territory and have been spotted at various locations around the property, including the most southern boundary (they came in from the north), along with the fence line much to the delight of Hoedspruit residents as well as enjoying long drinks at Buffalo dam.

Having elephants, a keystone species, on Pridelands will bring about significant, but necessary, changes to the current bush encroached habitat on Pridelands. These “habitat engineers” will start to open up the bush, which will allow for a whole host of other species to also call Pridelands home. Species like a cheetah, southern ground hornbills, blue wildebeest, even certain dung beetles are only a few examples of the many creatures that will benefit from the presence of elephants.

Stay tuned for more updates from Pridelands Conservancy.

Read more about the role of elephants in the natural landscape.