Historically 35 mammalian species were thought to have potentially occupied the region of South Africa where UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve now stands. Sadly through over-hunting, habitat fragmentation and competition with livestock many of these species had been excluded from the area. Since its conception the UmPhafa Project has released numerous species back to the area through translocation from other reserves.
To date, on the first of the properties making up UmPhafa, we have released fifteen species. These include: giraffe, zebra, red hartebeest, blesbok, servals, African rock pythons, common reedbuck, nyala, waterbuck, impala, leopard tortoises, ostrich, blue wildebeest, eland and white rhinos.
In the years since their release, all animals have bred successfully and as population sizes on this initial release site grew towards carrying capacity, UmPhafa entered phase two of its wildlife management plan in 2013. This involved the translocation of groups of animals from the initial release site to create founder populations on the second property of UmPhafa.
Five species have since been introduced to the second portion of UmPhafa - giraffe, blesbok, waterbuck, zebra and impala. This created a breeding nucleus which will recolonise the site as they breed. Although some species have made their own way onto the site through natural migrations since UmPhafa was established, other species will be considered for further translocations over the coming years.
In 2015, UmPhafa acquired a new portion of land which was previously separating off the first and second portions of the reserve. In October, the reserve maintenance team started to remove the fences separating the portions. Since the fences came down, the wildlife species have been moving between established areas. Once all of the fences are removed, the animals will be able to go wherever they wish over the 6,000 hectare reserve. This is a day that has been a long time coming in the history of UmPhafa and we cannot wait.
For information on which species can be found on the UmPhafa Reserve please click here.
More species are included within UmPhafa's collection plan for future release onto the land as selected in accordance with the specific habitat type. These species include buffalo and grey rhebok. Although leopard and spotted hyena have already freely migrated onto UmPhafa, there are also hopes to establish cheetah on the site in order that a natural balance between predator and prey species can be maintained.