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Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA)

Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary

Return of the Buffalo - New Population of Disease Free Buffalo in Barberton after 80 Years of Absence

With the escalating prevalence of wildlife diseases, species like the African Buffalo are increasingly under large-scale population threat. In collaboration with the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA), WeWild Africa has reintroduced a herd of disease-free African Buffalo into the Barberton Nature Reserve, a region where they have been absent for over 80 years. This initiative goes beyond reintroducing buffalo to their historical habitat; it strategically manages risk for overall African Buffalo populations in Southern Africa by establishing a new disease-free population. 

Buffalo populations across Southern Africa are commonly affected by diseases like bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis. These illnesses not only threaten the health of the buffalo but also pose a risk of transmission to other wildlife species and livestock. The buffalo herd relocated from Nooitgedacht Nature Reserve to Barberton has been thoroughly tested and confirmed to be free of these common diseases, making this project a step forward in wildlife disease management.

What are the steps to wildlife disease risk management? It’s not as simple as it seems. WeWild Africa’s experienced team is here to help.

Wildlife disease risk management refers to the strategies and practices implemented to prevent, control, and mitigate the spread of diseases within wildlife populations and between wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. This field is crucial for maintaining biodiversity, protecting endangered species, and safeguarding public and animal health. Key aspects of wildlife disease risk management include:

Surveillance & Monitoring​

Regularly monitoring wildlife populations for signs of disease, which helps in early detection and swift response to potential outbreaks.

Research & Data Analysis​

Studying wildlife diseases, their transmission mechanisms, and impacts on different species. This research often involves collecting and analyzing data on disease prevalence, distribution, and risk factors.

Habitat Management​

Managing natural habitats to reduce the risk of disease spread. This can include controlling wildlife population densities, ensuring adequate food and a variety of water sources, and maintaining natural barriers to disease transmission.

Biosecurity Measures​

Implementing measures to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases in wildlife areas. This can include quarantine protocols for translocated animals, controlling human access to sensitive areas, and sanitation practices for equipment and facilities.

Vaccination & Treatment​

Where feasible, vaccinating wildlife against certain diseases or treating infected individuals to control the spread of disease.

Public Awareness and Education​

Educating the public, especially communities living near wildlife habitats, about the risks of disease transmission and how to minimize them.

Collaboration & Policy Development​

Working with various stakeholders, including government agencies, conservation organizations, and local communities, to develop and implement policies and guidelines for wildlife disease management.

Emergency Response Planning​

Having plans in place for rapid response to disease outbreaks, including containment and management strategies to minimize spread and impact.

Why is Barberton Nature Reserve a good home for these buffalo?

The Barberton Nature Reserve, spanning over 27,541 hectares, is a landscape of immense beauty and biodiversity. Located at the foot of Hilltop road, near a unique Sea Dam, it’s situated 15 km from Nelspruit and 30 km from Barberton on the R38. The reserve’s landscape, known as “The Meeting of the Hills,” is marked by the Noord Kaap River running through a wide valley, flanked by a steep escarpment to the north and gentler hills to the south. Historically, the lower areas along the Noord Kaap River were used for gold prospecting and livestock grazing.

The reserve offers a picnic site with built-in barbecue stands and a beautiful stream, alongside self-guided game drives for visitors. Its diverse habitats, including the river valley and varied topography, provide an ideal environment for a wide range of wildlife, including the African buffalo. The varied landscape, abundant water sources, and rich vegetation make it a suitable habitat for buffalo, which require large grazing areas and access to water. Additionally, the reserve’s conservation efforts and management practices contribute to creating a safe and sustainable environment for the buffalo and other wildlife species. We are confident that the new buffalo herd will have a great home here. 


How You Can Help

The work carried out by WeWild Africa is only possible with the support of individual donors like yourself. You can join us and help us to rescue wildlife, rewild animals, and restore landscapes. 


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