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Ecosystem Restoration in Zimbabwe

Monitoring and Managing 290,000 acres of wilderness

We strongly believe collecting baseline data on the habitats we are protecting is essential. To keep ecosystems balanced, a real-time understanding of changes is essential. Our team in the Sapi Reserve have been doing ongoing biodiversity monitoring and data collection to produce a detailed map of the Sapi Reserve. While several maps exist for the region, they are outdated and no longer reliable as habitats are constantly changing. Great Plains are creating an updated and detailed map that covers both vegetation and habitat diversity. The team are taking regular soil samples in every vegetation plot to become the baseline for various studies, as many ecological systems are influenced by soil type and condition. In the last quarter the team have successfully sampled 11 plots and aim to complete the remaining 59 plots in the next quarter to complete the map.

The daily ongoing monitoring of the 101 translocated elephants in 13 herds (and 10 local herds) into the Lower Zambezi in Zimbabwe continues to be the priority of our team. The primary focus of the team has been monitoring these collared elephants to document their physical condition, overall well-being, social behaviours, and movements, encompassing both resident and relocated elephants.

Throughout this quarter, the team have been closely observing the movements of herds wandering nearby to community areas to be able to intervene and steer the animals back to avoid any human-elephant conflict. They are pleased to share that the herd that had moved closer to a community area has now moved back to its former home range in the wildlife area without endangering the local communities. Five of the original herds

are currently roaming in Zambia, indicating a broader range of movement beyond the initial release areas. These observations underscore the dynamic nature of elephant behaviour and the importance of ongoing monitoring efforts, mapping and data collection to track their movements and adapt conservation efforts.

And finally, the team are overjoyed to share that a newborn elephant calf from one of the herds has been born, giving hope to the next generation.

Every year there are rangers across the world who lose their life because of inadequate first aid response in the field. Performing basic life support on victims in the bush while medical assistance is on the way doubles chances of survival, and we want to ensure that our teams in remote landscapes are well equipped to deal with any incidents. All members of the Sapi Reserve team took part in an ACE First Aid training with both theoretical and practical lessons and hands-on scenarios to make sure they are best prepared when dealing with real-life situations. The training was a valuable addition to the rangers ongoing training.

Author Great Plains Foundation

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