Diamond producer De Beers said on Monday it was relocating 200 elephants from its private reserve in South Africa to neighboring Mozambique, part of wider efforts to restore wildlife populations ravaged by conflict there.
The Anglo American unit said its 32,000-hectare (80,000-acre) Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve could support around 60 elephants but now had 270, causing “extensive damage to an ecosystem that must sustain a diverse wildlife population.”
The world’s largest land mammals have a jumbo-sized impact on their terrain and in many South African parks, which are fenced to contain them, populations have reached levels where the vegetation cannot support their numbers.
De Beers said the elephants would be moved 1,500 km (1,000 miles) to Mozambique’s Zinave National Park, which has over 400,000 hectares and an elephant population of only 60.
Mozambique’s wildlife numbers were badly hit by a 15-year civil war that ended in 1992. In more recent years, its remaining elephant populations have been targeted by ivory poachers.