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The City of Cape Town, in partnership with the Gantouw Project, has successfully reintroduced five eland to the Cape Flats, which was historically part of their natural rangelands. The eland ‘bokkies’ have taken well to the natural vegetation of the endangered Cape Flats dune strandveld from which they have been absent for over 200 years.

The City of Cape Town partnered with the Gantouw Project, a project of the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET), to move five eland from Wellington to the Rondevlei Section of the False Bay Nature Reserve in October 2015. The eland were released into the veld and, after close monitoring over the past six months, it is evident that this small herd of eland has adapted well to the natural vegetation and seem to be an effective browsing management tool for the reserve.The Cape Flats dune strandveld (CFDS), of which only 7% is found in proclaimed nature reserves, is endemic to the coastal areas of the Cape Flats and is found nowhere else in the world. The veld has not been browsed upon by indigenous browsing herds for many years and this has resulted in bush encroachment that is threatening the ecological health of this vegetation type.

The absence of eland from these and other landscapes over the past few hundred years has led to an increase in the shrub component of natural areas in Cape Town. This has changed what should have been an open habitat into a closed dense thicket, resulting in the shrinking of populations and the disappearance of certain plant and animal species that are adapted to the open habitat.

‘More than six months have passed since we released the eland into the veld at the Rondevlei section of our False Bay Nature Reserve and we are thrilled that they have adapted so well to the natural vegetation. This pilot project has experienced great success and will now be used as an ongoing management tool in nature reserves on the Cape Flats.

‘We look forward to the next stage of the project when we start transporting the eland to various reserves as an ambassadors of this ecological management tool for this endangered vegetation type,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.

Since their release, the animals have been weaned and have a daily routine that consists of spending nights in a boma and feeding on natural vegetation during the day. The boma provides them with shelter and security at night, and during the day they are led by eland monitors through the veld. These eland have become ambassadors for their species, providing opportunity to the local surrounding community to see and learn about their important conservation value.

Eland are present on the Cape Peninsula at Cape Point but they have been absent from the Cape Flats as most of the remaining natural areas are too small or have complex social problems that preclude the reintroduction of eland. In some of the City’s larger more rural reserves, it is still hoped to accommodate free-ranging eland.

Some of the other larger mammal species that can be found at Rondevlei include the Cape grysbok, hippo, porcupine, caracal, scrub hare, Cape hare, otter, and genet.

For more information and ongoing updates, residents should please join the Gantouw Project on Facebook and visit the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust website here: www.cteet.co.za

For more information on the City’s nature reserves, residents should please visit www.capetown.gov.za/naturereserves

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