Gone are the days when only the sun bleached bones of elephant could be found in the Olifantskloof and when only the elderly could tell tales of herds of game following age old migration routes through Mountainlands.

Wildlife on Mountainlands Nature Reserve.  This veritable Eden is well on its way to full restoration to its former glory. Through modern game capture techniques, animals that once roamed the pristine mountains more than a century ago, are being reintroduced as part of the overall plan to redress and protect the delicate ecology. Since 2000, game stocking has been an ongoing process during winter. While before the formation of the reserve, the area was a vast wilderness with abundant small and larger game, since 2002 a number of locally extinct species have been reintroduced. This includes some of the more visible plains game like Impala, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Eland and Waterbuck. At the same time the gene pools of existing game populations were also replenished in the case of species like Kudu, Warthog and Leopard.

Wildlife on Mountainlands Nature Reserve
Game is mainly sourced from other Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency reserves where there is excess stock and is brought in as and when available. Electrification of the existing perimeter game fence is planned to coincide with the reintroduction of larger game such as Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo.

Wildlife on Mountainlands Nature ReserveThree key factors govern the game reintroduction programme:

Firstly, the area falls outside the so-called “red line”, which means its wildlife is free from diseases such as foot and mouth, corridor, animal TB and other game diseases, typically found in Kruger National Park and adjoining big game areas in South Africa and most game reserves outside South Africa. This, in turn, means that the game can be traded commercially. The live game market is a fast growing sector of the economy and thus the excess game from Mountainlands will one day be an additional source of income to help make the reserve sustainable.

Wildlife on Mountainlands Nature Reserve
Secondly, because of above and the positioning of the reserve as a hub for the outdoor enthusiast and family orientated leisure activities, a policy was adopted not to reintroduce lion to the reserve. While other dangerous game such as rhino and elephant will again be present, their distribution and behavior is predictable and more compatible with human activities.

Wildlife on Mountainlands Nature Reserve
Thirdly, due to the varied and mountainous terrain, it is not feasible to conduct conventional aerial game counts. As there was also significant game present upon formation of the reserve the actual numbers of the game are not known. Management of the game and determination of stocking and take-off rates and species composition are therefore determined through the impacts of the game on the different habitat types rather than conventional numbers based management.

Download following lists for known game and other mammals found on Mountainlands:

**Nagapie picture supplied by Warwick Tarboton.