Antelope species released onto Colchester Zoo’s South African Private Nature Reserve

Action for the Wild, Colchester Zoo’s charity, is thrilled to report on the release of several antelope species at the Umphafa Private Nature Reserve in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

In total 7 impala, 21 red hartebeest and 22 blue wildebeest were introduced to the reserve in April and have settled in very well. It is hoped that the introduction will increase the future breeding populations of antelope species at the reserve. Antelope are important for providing a prey base for carnivorous species, like the cheetah, but are threatened by the spread of human settlements, increased farming practices and increased demand for meat.

Rebecca Perry, Conservation Director said ‘These recent releases are exciting developments for UmPhafa. The releases of the wildebeest represent the first for this species on UmPhafa and the new populations of red hartebeest and impala will serve to top up our existing herds. It is hoped that these species will go on to breed in the future and help us on our way to reaching carrying capacity for these species.’

Action for the Wild opened the reserve in 2006 and has been working to rehabilitate and restore the previously over-cultivated land of the reserve, whilst introducing native species to create a haven for South African wildlife. The reserve has already released thirteen species to date including giraffe, zebra, blesbok, servals, African rock pythons, common reedbuck, nyala, waterbuck, leopard tortoises and white rhinos. The white rhinoceros release has been particularly successful with the introduced females having both given birth to new young this year.

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For further information or images please contact Zoe Wells, Communications and Development Assistant on 01206 331292 ext 249.

Colchester Zoo is a member of BIAZA. BIAZA is the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They are the professional body representing the best zoos and aquariums in Britain and Ireland. Member Collections pride themselves on their excellent animal welfare, education and conservation work. BIAZA supports them in their work and helps promote the work of good zoos and aquariums.