Research Article

The reintroduction of large carnivores to the Eastern Cape, South Africa: an assessment

Matt W. Haywarda1 c1, Graham I. H. Kerleya1, John Adendorffa2, Lucius C. Moolmana2, John O'Briena3, Angus Sholto-Douglasa4, Charlene Bissetta4, Peter Beana5, Alan Fogartya6, Dale Howartha7 and Richard Slatera8

a1 Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, PO Box 77000, Port Elizabeth, 6031, Eastern Cape, South Africa

a2 Addo Elephant National Park, PO Box 52, Addo, 6105, Eastern Cape, South Africa

a3 Shamwari Game Reserve, PO Box 91, Paterson, 6130, and Rhodes University, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa

a4 Kwandwe Game Reserve, PO Box 448, Grahamstown, 6140, Eastern Cape, South Africa

a5 Scotia Safaris, Paterson, 6130, Eastern Cape, South Africa

a6 Kariega Game Reserve, PO Box 13900, Humewood, 6013, Eastern Cape, South Africa

a7 Pumba Private Game Reserve, 29-10th Avenue, Walmer, 6070, Eastern Cape, South Africa

a8 Samara Game Reserve, Graaff Reinet, South Africa


Recently, conservation estate in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province has increased 10-fold resulting in large predators being increasingly reintroduced to restore ecological integrity and maximize tourism. We describe the reintroductions of large carnivores (>10 kg) that have occurred in the Eastern Cape and use various criteria to assess their success. Lion Panthera leo reintroduction has been highly successful with a population of 56 currently extant in the region and problems of overpopulation arising. The African wild dog Lycaon pictus population has increased to 24 from a founder population of 11. Preliminary results for spotted hyaenas Crocuta crocuta also indicate success. Wild populations of leopards Panthera pardus exist on several reserves and have been supplemented by translocated individuals, although deaths of known individuals have occurred and no estimate of reproduction is available. Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus reintroduction has also been less successful with 36 individuals reintroduced and 23 cubs being born but only 41 individuals surviving in 2005. Criteria for assessing the success of reintroductions of species that naturally occur in low densities, such as top predators, generally have limited value. Carrying capacity for large predators is unknown and continued monitoring and intensive management will be necessary in enclosed, and possibly all, conservation areas in the Eastern Cape to ensure conservation success.

(Received August 17 2006)

(Revised September 29 2006)

(Accepted October 19 2006)


c1 email: hayers111@aol.com