Buffalo back on Welgevonden

After an absence of 2 years from Welgevonden, Buffalo again roam the reserve.

Due to our Buffalo testing positive for corridor disease about 30 months ago, we had to remove all the buffalo from the reserve and the reserve was then put under quarantine for 2 years.

The quarantine period expired in January, and the search for new buffalo started in all earnest. It was decided to only bring in bulls at this stage. There were several reasons for that. Past experience has shown us that the bulls are much hardier than the cows, and do much better in the harsh mountain sourveld.

They are also much more predator “proof”, it is more difficult for a group of 3 or 4 lions to pull down a full grown buffalo bull than it is to bring down a cow. Bulls are also less expensive than cows, and one can buy two bulls for the price of one cow. Furthermore, the buffalo have to be re-tested every 6 months to test for corridor disease, and again the bulls are hardier which make them more ideal for capture. For the time being no more buffalo will be brought into the reserve until there is surety that they don’t pick up corridor disease again. A decision on more introductions, and maybe the introduction of cows, will be made at that time.

Ten bulls were acquired from the neighbouring Shambala Game Reserve, which were ideal as they are already used to the vegetation occurring in the Waterberg. All 10 are beautiful specimens, just under or at the prime of their lives, which means that bar anything untoward happening to them, they should have a good couple of years ahead of them. They were captured on Shambala, blood samples were taken, and then put in a boma on Shambala. Two were fitted with radio collars to track their movements and also to make capturing for re-testing easier.

They were kept in the boma until the results of the blood samples were sent back three weeks later. All tested negative. They were captured in the boma on Shambala on the 13th of March, put in a boma on Welgevonden for a couple of days to settle down, before the gate was opened on the 15th. However, it took them 3 more days to exit the boma, and only after they were attracted out of the gate with food. Late afternoon on the 18 th they eventually left the boma and took occupancy of their new home on Welgevonden. We wish them all the best in their new home. Keep an eye open for them around Fig Tree plains or in the Taaibos valley!

The two hippo were released into Rhino Dam for several reasons, it is in the middle of the reserve which will give them lots of space before they will reach a fence. There is also good grazing on the nearby Fig Tree and Ibhubesi Plains, and the close proximity of Leopard Dam means that there is a dam close by in case Rhino Dam dries up with the very dry weather we are experiencing at the moment.

They have started to explore their new home already, and their tracks were spotted halfway down into the Taaibos Valley in the north, and onto the Grootwater Plains south of the dam. We hope that they will enjoy there new home on Welgevonden.