WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

Our approach to managing the fauna and flora on the reserve is informed by our vision and purpose and the fact that we are working with a closed system within a perimeter fence.

Vision and purpose:
“To create an enduring legacy by conserving and enhancing the biodiversity of the ecosystem
through the astute and sustainable management of resources”.

Prior to incorporation most of the surface area of the reserve had been subject to decades of consumptive practices associated with cattle farming. Restoration of the veld to its natural condition has necessitated a conservative approach to managing animal populations in an area characterised by low and unreliable rainfall.

On average, some 1 000 to 1 500 medium to large sized herbivores are removed annually. Decisions on game numbers are guided by recommendations made by the Agricultural Research Council – Animal Production Institute and are based on data obtained from annual plant surveys combined with an annual aerial game census.

Surplus game identified for removal via the annual plant survey and game census is sold to best effect in order to provide funds for running the reserve. Hunting accounts for approximately 10% to 15% of this surplus. The balance is disposed of by live game sales or culling for the red meat market when there is no demand for live animals.

Artificial water points across the reserve are manipulated in order to prevent overexploitation of the veld and to optimise game viewing opportunities. Fire plays a significant role in natural systems. At Selati it is used as a management tool to prevent bush encroachment and to stimulate moribund grasses.

The management and control of elephant populations is an emotive issue and subject to much debate across the world. Elephant numbers on the Selati Game Reserve have more than doubled since the reintroduction of the species, which involved the translocation of three family groups from the Kruger National Park in 1996.

Working with and under a sponsorship from Disney Animal Kingdom, vasectomies were carried out on the sexually active bulls in 2011 in order to facilitate a reduction in population growth. Other options are continually being explored and evaluated.

The Selati Game Reserve has come under a lot of pressure to protect its rhino population following the dramatic upswing in rhino horn poaching that has taken place across the country over the last five years.
We have a significant population of white rhino and are custodians of a population of black rhino under the WWF sponsored Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Black Rhino Range Extension Project.
Anti-poaching measures include the dehorning of animals and an elaborate and intensive monitoring program for both species which involve the collaring and daily tracking of animals across the reserve.

The behaviour and pride dynamics of the lion and their impact on the game population has been closely monitored since their introduction in 2004.
A key learning from this effort has been an appreciation for how little we understand of the complex interaction between the different predator populations on a closed reserve of this nature.
To this end, we plan a significant intensification of our research effort in order to develop a better understanding predator behaviour and improve our management decision-making on the reserve.