A new breeding herd of 53 Cape Buffalo has been introduced in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg, outside Vaalwater. The acquisition forms part of a multi-million rand game purchase programme within the 35 000-hectare privately owned reserve. It has partly been financed through an interest-free loan from the owners of one of the lodges within the reserve, Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa, Frank and Myriam Vogel, and their MF Foundation.
With conservation and sustainability at the core of its ethos, Welgevonden Game Reserve is advised by a Scientific Steering Committee on the reserve’s scientific and ecological management. Following many years of academic research into the specific nutritional conditions on the reserve, Professor Herbert Prins of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who is a key member of this committee, was instrumental in developing the game purchase programme. From the start of the programme in 2015, the game population of Welgevonden has increased significantly with the introduction of more impala, wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck and hippo, and now, buffalo. These carefully selected species will synergistically contribute towards the expansion of grazing lawns – a vital element in the reserve’s audacious goal of becoming a herbivore-driven, rather than a fire-driven ecosystem.
Says CEO of Welgevonden, Shaun McCartney: “Buffalo are bulk grazers and significantly influence vegetative structure. They are known to convert long grassland into short, grassy environments which is conducive to other grazers. This localised grazing impact, along with the nutrient input of their droppings and breaking soil surface through hoofing action, is aligned with the expansion of grazing lawns in the reserve. In addition, buffalo is of course an iconic species in the Big 5 assemblage and although we do have another breeding herd on the Reserve, the addition of this new breeding herd brings an exciting new dynamic to the exceptional game viewing that is being offered at Welgevonden.”