A family of 27 elephants will be moved to an isolated part of Addo Elephant National Park on Monday‚ in an area where the animals were once hunted to extinction.
The move is to keep the elephants safe as poaching for ivory increases in Africa.
Addo Elephant National Park is near Port Elizabeth and is the third largest game reserve in South Africa.
The elephants are currently living in a busy part of the park that is accessible by railways and new roads.
The move is organised by SA National Parks and the charity Network for Animals (NFA).
“It is a proud moment for South Africa‚” said David Barritt‚ NFA’s campaign director. “At a time when the United Nations estimates that 100 elephants are killed in Africa by poachers every day‚ we are doing something that should make sure elephants are safe in the wild.
“South Africa’s elephants are part of our national heritage and vitally important for our tourist industry‚” said Barritt. “This is one major step towards reclaiming the wilderness for elephants.”
Many poachers in South Africa escape across the border to Mozambique.
The Addo Park is about 1‚320 km from Mozambique.
The charity NFA said in a statement: “The process started two months ago when Addo rangers identified a suitable family group and herded them by helicopter to an area which was then temporarily fenced. On Monday‚ the family will be darted from helicopters‚ loaded on to trucks and driven to the new area.
“They have to be moved in a family group which means moving the matriarch (elephant families are always headed by one female)‚ young bulls and cows and youngsters‚ plus the very important older bull whose job it is to make babies.”