Conservation management was seen in action during CapeNature’s first Cape mountain zebra capture and translocation operation that took place from the 19th to the 22nd of September 2016 in and around the De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Overberg.
This active conservation management action was done in an attempt to improve the resilience and growth of this iconic Western Cape species by activating some key meta-population management interventions within the Western Cape.
In a landmark negotiation with conservation stewardship site, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, CapeNature ensured that 28 Cape mountain zebras (12 males, 16 females) were captured and translocated from the De Hoop Nature Reserve and surrounding farms to the prestigious game reserve close to Montagu. The capture teams from Shamwari Game Reserve, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve as well as CapeNature scientific and management staff took part in the operation, while scientists from the National Zoological Gardens took specimens, blood samples, measurements and photographs of each of the zebras to ensure that identikits can be produced for further research on the species.
“It is an honour for Sanbona to be part of the conservation efforts of the Cape mountain zebra and to be able to actively manage the safe capture operation with all animals arriving safe and sound at our reserve” says Paul Vorster, General Manager of Sanbona. “These capture operations are not always easy and we are proud to have a 100% success rate with this specific translocation”.
During the three days, landowners neighbouring CapeNature’s De Hoop Nature Reserve allowed the team access to capture Cape mountain zebras that had escaped from the nature reserve onto their property. The zebras were located and tracked from the air, then darted and transported to the translocation truck where the scientists collected samples and specimens from each individual animal.
After the data collection the zebras were loaded onto the transport truck for the journey to their new home at Sanbona. “The scientific data that were collected during the capture and resulting analyses and research will enable effective scientific decision support towards the successful implementation of the metapopulation strategy which is envisaged in the recently drafted Biodiversity Management Plan for the Cape mountain zebra in South Africa. Our collaboration with Sanbona as well as the Conservation Research team at the National Zoological Gardens has set the foundation for critical monitoring of this population to be effected.” says Coral Birss, Mammal Ecologist of CapeNature.
CapeNature CEO, Dr Razeena Omar says: “The conservation of this iconic species has been a high priority for CapeNature and is one of the conservation success stories in the Western Cape. In the previous century the Cape mountain zebra faced near extinction and natural populations survived in only three conservation areas: Gamkaberg and Kammanassie Nature Reserves – both manged by CapeNature – and Mountain Zebra National Park. Today the species is in a much better position with population numbers having grown significantly and will continue to strive thanks to interventions such as this translocation.”
The Cape mountain zebra was listed as VULNERABLE (D1) by the IUCN (Novellie 2008) and is currently considered stable and increasing but still conservation dependant. The long term survival of the species is considered to be dependent on the implementation of a sound metapopulation management strategy and integrated action plans in order to mitigate the threats of inbreeding, hybridisation, loss of genetic variation, disease resilience and fragmentation.
- Cape mountain zebra Biodiversity Species Management Plan (BMP-s)