According to Digs Pascoe of Space for Elephants, corridors also help elephants to spread their gene pool and share knowledge between different groups.
A conservation corridor linking Madikwe and Pilanesberg National Park, roughly 75km away as the crow flies, has been in the pipeline for almost 15 years. It would remove internal fences and allow elephants to move freely between the two parks, extending the entire conservation area to around 300,000 hectares. Pilanesberg presently has only 240 elephants.
This corridor would form part of the Segarona Heritage Experience, an Open Africa eco-tourism route that was launched in 2012 and incorporates the Bakgatla tribal lands, the towns of Derdepoort, Zeerust and Groot Marico and a number of cultural and heritage attractions.
However, conflicting interests with local mining companies including Platmin, a loss of faith from subsistence farming communities within the proposed corridor and insufficient commitment from local government and other stakeholders has hampered the project. According to Nel, this may lead to it being abandoned.
Garai remains optimistic. “You can’t just move people and villages for a corridor between Madikwe and Pilanesberg. But there are areas with very few people, rural communities who would be willing to participate, areas which belong to provincial government and willing landowners who could be incorporated.”
Corridors can boost tourism, create jobs and a sense of local resource ownership and play a role in curbing poaching. “That way tourists can win, locals can win and wildlife can win,” says Garai.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, is proof of the value of a corridor system. It comprises 332,00 hectares which link three major lake systems and eight different ecosystems. It has been widely recognised for its pioneering conservation vision, the empowerment of local communities and the value of corridors.