A moment on the ground for a greater future:
What you’re witnessing here is science-led conservation practice in order to best protect and preserve the African buffalo for future generations. Because the number of African buffalo is decreasing, they are now listed as ‘near-threatened’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which determines the conservation listings for species.
In order to protect the buffalo, it is imperative to understand their migration patterns and movements. This is where satellite tracking technology in the form of a collar, comes in. Collars allow real-time tracking of the buffalo through the radio receiver that sits within the collar. It can provide data on the location, behaviour and movement patterns of the buffalo. This can show up the size of the buffalo’s home range, map its migration routes and enable more strategic anti-poaching and human-wildlife conflict mitigation efforts to be put in place.
A collar is easy to put on the buffalo after it is darted, and it does not impede the animal’s lifestyle in any way. Notice how the animal is blindfolded to ensure it is kept calm throughout the quick procedure. The collar itself is light and after one is fitted, the animal is given an antidote to reverse the effects of the tranquiliser, the blindfold is removed, and the buffalo gets up and heads off into the plains.
The essential data that the collar will provide on the buffalo’s behaviour will inform future conservation decisions for Maputo Special Reserve’s management team. Peace Parks and Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas has a long-term partnership agreement through which this, as well as three other conservation areas in the country are being developed.
The plains of Africa’s wilderness areas are traversed by millions of animals, the vast majority of which are grazers, like this buffalo. Grazers rejuvenate the plains by allowing fresh new grass to sprout, and their dung provides an endless source of nutrient-rich fertiliser, as well as serving as food for insects. Birds in turn will feed on the insects, so it is because of this that grazers are usually the first species to be translocated into wilderness areas. When grazers have successfully established themselves, they steadily pave the way towards a healthy and balanced ecosystem that eventually allows for the reintroduction of predators.