De Beers: Protecting Ecosystems in Africa through the Longest Translocation of Elephants in History

Nestled along De Beers’ Diamond Route in South Africa, Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve’s 80,000 acres of fertile land and safe conditions created a “large” problem: too many elephants were impacting the ecosystem.

The Reserve is home to over 400 different species of birds, plants, and fauna among a variety of landscapes as well as a flourishing elephant population. In 2018, there were 270 elephants in the reserve, exceeding the Reserve’s carrying capacity of around 70. This was starting to overwhelm the wider ecosystem.

De Beers Group, a leading mining group in the diamond industry, are managing an initiative in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation, to translocate up to 200 of these elephants to Zinave National Park in Mozambique, a country whose wildlife population was severely depleted. 

“Elephants are really intelligent animals,” Dr. Corne Anderson, Ecology & Biodiversity Manager for De Beers Group, said. “We are moving family herds that can communicate with each other during the process of the movement.”

Translocation is the process of capturing, loading, transporting, and releasing the animals in their new habitat, while keeping elephant family groups together.  Moving elephants across across borders involves a great deal of planning, taking over eight months to organize. 

The move, one of the longest elephant translocations ever attempted, has so far involved moving 101 elephants over 1,000 miles across Africa, helping to “rewild” Zinave National Park and allowing for a rebirth of the ecosystem, with further elephants to be added in the coming years as travel restrictions are lifted.

“There is no greater symbol of Africa than the majestic elephant,” Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group, said.  “For us to be able to help secure their future in Mozambique, while also ensuring other species at our Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve can flourish, is something every employee of De Beers Group is proud of.”

The addition of the elephants in Mozambique has helped spark a rebirth to the ecosystem. Species of birds not seen for several years and new elephant babies have been spotted throughout the park. Through the Anglo American Foundation, De Beers Group has also committed $500,000 of funding over five years to support a well-trained team of anti-poaching rangers to protect the animals, creating more jobs.

De Beers Group’s work to protect ecosystems throughout Africa goes above and beyond to align with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land as they continue to support this initiative to protect ecosystems throughout Africa—another example of how Diamonds Do Good.

After this article, how has your opinion on the diamond industry changed?