Summerplace has undergone conversion to a game reserve over the past year and is now home to a wide range of game, some of which are endangered, vulnerable or protected species. The only member of the Big Five at Summerplace Game Reserve is Leopard. Although recently that changed when there were some unexpected visitors.
In late December, two Cape Buffalo were spotted at Summerplace Game Reserve. By the time Dave arrived in the area where they were seen, they were nowhere to be seen! A search was mounted to find the two visitors, who had somehow made their way onto Summerplace from a neighbouring reserve.
“We think they crept under the fence because we can’t find any damage to the fence,” said Dave. “They were two young females and we immediately set about trying to capture them to return them to their home next door.”
The Summerplace team began searching for the two buffalo, a surprisingly challenging task. With high summer rainfall, the bushveld vegetation is lush and where it’s dense, which is where buffalo prefer to be, it’s very difficult to see game.
The plan was to hire a vet to dart the two buffalo so that they would be sedated for moving to the other side of the fence.
“We eventually found them with a ground search. The vet managed to dart the one, but not the other. That one succumbed to the tranquiliser and we were able to load her onto a low trailer. We then woke her up and loaded her into a game transport trailer and returned her to where she came from,” explained Dave.
The search and capture of the second buffalo is ongoing. Twice a helicopter search has been carried out, but with no success. She’s been spotted on the ground though in a certain area, but the heavy recent rain has made it impossible to reach that area with any vehicles.
“She’s a young cow. If anything, she’s on the timid side. She’s certainly not aggressive. But we will eventually capture her. She’s in a part of the reserve where there aren’t any of our mountain biking or hiking trails, so no real danger to humans.” explained Dave.
“If you include the fees for the helicopter search (twice) and the vet as well as the amount of time our staff have invested in this search, we have spent a rather large amount of money and time on trying capture this remaining buffalo. It’s certainly been something different for us, but we will be happy once we can capture and return her to her home reserve,” added Dave.
There around 400 000 Cape Buffalo in Southern and East Africa. As a member of the Big Five, the large bulls are popular hunting trophies. Buffalo are high risk in terms of disease and projects to breed disease-free herds are seeing good success.