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article imageAddo Elephant Park fence comes down

By Lee Labuschagne     Sep 17, 2010 in Environment
The elephants of the Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, can now move about more freely after a length of fence was removed between two sections of the park.
MediaClubSA reports that a 4km-long piece of fence between the Colchester area in the South and the main game area to the immediate north, was brought down by volunteers, rangers and other workers, resulting in 24 000ha more for animals to explore.
Janine Erasmus' report for MediaClubSA says the historic dismantling will now enable animals to move down to the Colchester area, which has undergone upgrades worth R45-million (US$6.2-million) in total on roads, fencing, wildlife introduction, a new rest camp and other maintenance.
About the park
The Addo Elephant National Park, an important tourism drawcard for this region, is located near the Sundays River and managed by the South African National Parks authority (SANParks). It was proclaimed to protect the region’s elephants, which had almost been wiped out by farmers and ivory hunters during the 18th and 19th centuries. By the time the park came into being, only a handful of the magnificent beasts were left.
From the initial population of 11 when Addo was proclaimed in 1931, elephant numbers have now risen to more than 450, making this one of the most concentrated populations of African elephant (Loxodonta africana) on the continent.
Originally 2 000ha in area, the park today extends over 164 000ha, but an even bigger expansion of the park is planned, which will see the area grow to 360 000ha. An additional 120 000ha marine reserve is also to be proclaimed.
No citrus fruit, please!
Interestingly, citrus fruit is forbidden in Addo’s game-viewing areas, as the elephants have developed a craving for them over the years. Because the cruelty of hunting had left the survivors aggressive and frightened, rangers fed them truckloads of oranges in an attempt to pacify them during the park’s early days. Now a single whiff could lead to disaster, as they are powerful enough to destroy a car – and its occupants – in an attempt to reach their favourite fruit.
A rich diversity of species
* Addo is home to many other animal species as well, from the critically endangered black rhino (Diceros bicornis) and the vulnerable Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) to the black-backed jackal, various antelope species and the industrious Addo flightless dung beetle (Circellium bacchus) which is unique to the area,
* The flora is equally important: like other South African reserves, the park is a natural treasure, with five of the country’s seven biomes found within its borders. These are the Albany Thicket, Fynbos, Forest, Nama Karoo and the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt biomes.
* With its large stretch of Algoa Bay coastline, marine conservation is another priority. According to Addo management, the park incorporates the largest coastal dune field in the Southern hemisphere. T(he southern right whale and the great white shark, along with the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant, comprise the so-called Big Seven.)
* The world’s largest breeding population of Cape gannets, and second largest breeding colony of African penguins, are also protected there.
* Addo also contains a number of interesting archaeological sites, including rock art in the Zuurberg caves and remains of the nomadic Strandloper (an Afrikaans word meaning “beach walker”) people, who roamed the area during the Later Stone Age (between 40 000 and 10 000 years ago).
More about Elephants, Addo elephant park, Nature conservation, Eastern cape
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