In 2015 Mokore Safaris was part of the first successful Buffalo reloaction within Mozambique. Coutada 9 was once famous for its large Buffalo herds, sustaining as many as 10,000 in it's hay day. However due to the civil war and subsequant poaching the numbers had reached as low as 29. The introduction of anti-poaching units to the area since 2005 has meant a slow increase to a native herd of around 40 animals. Although this is an improvement it has been a slow growth due to the small starting number.
Coutada 9 has vast quantities of grass, it needs bulk grazers like buffalo to reduce moribund (building up of dead grass) to ensure fresh growth and open up areas for other grazers that prefer shorter grass. For the last few years Mokore has had to use controlled fires to do this. The use of fire is not an unusal management tool. But if fire is overused it can lead to a reduced biodiversity; as only the grass that is fire resistant will remain. The buffalo not only reduce grass and reduce the need for wild fires but they also fertilise as they go.
Mokore Safaris has been part of the effort to bring in more buffalo from outside sources. It took 10 years before they had permission from the Mozambique government for a trial relocation of 50 buffalo from the Marromeu reserve in Mozambique.
Coutada 9 used African Wildlife Conservation & Management as the capture team, it was the same company who had done the game swap with Gorongosa National Park. There were many logistical issues including repairing stretches of road, sourcing liquid nitrogen and getting flight path permission for the helicopter but by working together we got it all completed in time for capture. The capture went well and 50 buffalo arrived safely in Coutada 9. They were released into a boma to allow them to settle down and for quarantine purposes.
Thankfully all blood tests came back negative for all diseases. We fed them a special mix designed specially for them to suppliment the grass in the boma. We also had several waterpoints and wallowing areas as this was one of the issues that caused deaths in earlier less successful relocations.
We then released them into a larger boma to acclimatise to the area, after 3 months we left the gates open and allowed them to walk out when they chose. They are all out now but still stay relatively close to the boma and drink at all the dams in the area.
Due to the success of this relocation we were given permission to capture and relocate more buffalo. In 2017 we reloacted a further 200 buffalo from Marromeu. This was another success. See the blog for more information.