The Greater Makalali Nature Reserve (GMNR) in Hoedspruit, home to aha Makalali Private Game Lodge, has received a donation of 45 disease-free African buffalos from local landowner, Antony Rogers.

Aha Makalali Private Game Lodge and GMNR had collaborated to breed buffalo free of bovine tuberculosis and foot-and-mouth disease which seriously threatened the great African buffalo population.

To eliminate the disease, a 400-hectare buffalo camp on the borders of Greater Makalali was established, as were isolated breeding pockets outside the Kruger Park system and associated areas.

After more than 50 years of absence from the area, a disease-free herd was released into the GMNR, boosting the national buffalo population.

Since the initial release of the herd of 42, the population has grown to around 60. To date, there have been no documented recordings of any buffalo killed by predators, despite many interactions with lions.

“As little as a year ago, we would have thought it was unprecedented that our buffalo herd would grow to over a hundred animals,” said Chairman of the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Gary Elmes.

“Antony’s efforts have made a huge impact on our ecosystem here at the reserve. We look forward to seeing these animals flourish.”

In May, the first 25 buffalo were translocated from Rogers’ property near Tzaneen to a holding boma on the reserve. Within the coming weeks, the remaining 20 animals will also be translocated to the boma, and once the herd has settled, they will be released into the greater reserve to start their new life.

“We are all very excited to be able to grow our buffalo population and we thank Antony for his generosity,” said aha Hotels & Lodges CEO, Graeme Edmond.

“This is some much-needed good news in a time that’s been uncertain in many ways. We really look forward to more buffalo sightings in the reserve when we open up to guests soon. It adds a whole new dimension to the experience.”