Pongola Game Reserve in South Africa

Pongola Game Reserve

Province Kwa-Zulu Natal
Country South Africa


Key People -: Malcolm Thomson (manager)


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants

Elephant keepers
Record history
History of updates2024-03-09

Latest document update2024-03-09 16:22:37
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Pongola Game Reserve, South Africa , was founded in 1894.

Living elephants

At the Pongola Game Reserve lives 7 elephants with records in this database: (detail list)
  1. Charisma born 1987?
  2. Charm born 1987?
  3. Constance born 1987?
  4. Curve born 1990?
  5. Tusker born 1987?
  6. Unnamed (twin) born 2021-12-00
  7. Unnamed (twin) born 2021-12-00
and possibly other wild elephants which have no record in this database.

Comments / pictures1894: The Pongola Game Reserve was first proclaimed on 13 June 1894, and is therefore the oldest official game reserve in Africa.

1997: After an absence of over 100 years, new elephants were introduced in 1997 as part of the transfrontier park vision, and two families of elephants were acquired from the Kruger National Park. Their parents had been culled, and the babies transported to KwaZulu-Natal in the first relocation exercises. The new cow elephants are called Curve, Constance, Charisma and Charm, and the bull ‘Tusker’.

Later that same year, three bulls that had recently been translocated from Kruger National Park to another reserve in the area, broke out and decided to take up residency in the Pongola Game Reserve: ‘Douw’ about 50 years old, ‘Jochum’ about 35 and ‘Ingane’ about 25.

Jochum and Ingane escaped from the Pongola Game Reserve via the Pongola river line. Jochum’s ‘wanderlust’ took him to a neighbouring reserve 50km away, and Ingane went to another, over 40km away. Ingane and Jochum then returned to Pongola by themselves.

Ingane made friends with orphans living without parental guidance, all about 10 years old.

2014: Pongola experienced a devastating drought between 2014 and 2020, which resulted in the reserve needing to cull a large number of zebra, blue wildebeest and impala to enable other Species to have a better chance of survival. Pongola also applied for the Culling of 86 elephants as the population was already way above the reserve’s carrying capacity of 30 elephants.

Pongola Game Reserve in South Africa South+Africa
2016: During the drought when Pongolapoort Dam levels were low, and due to overpopulation, 58 elephants crossed from Pongola Game Reserve into the Royal Jozini Private Game Reserve in Eswatini.

2021 December: Two extremely rare elephant twins have been born in a game reserve in southeastern South Africa. The unnamed children were discovered in the Pongola Game Reserve in North Kwa-Zulu Natal this week in the care of their mother and the rest of the Herd. The twins were born to Curve, a 31-year-old cow, and the father is believed to be Ingani, a 44-year-old male elephant who died just over a year ago.

2022: Pongola Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal is home to an impressive array of wildlife, including four of the Big Five (excluding lion), hippopotamus and crocodile. The reserve (and in particular, one of its main landowners, the Karel Landman Trust) recently broke the news that it would no longer be keeping elephants on its property. In this opinion editorial, the general manager for Pongola Game Reserve, Malcolm Thomson, explains the management challenges that led the KLT to this decision. While a previous management plan included approval for the Hunting of a certain number of elephant bulls, the management plan for the next 10 years is currently under review.

2023: There has been an increase in the number of human-wildlife conflict incidents on the eastern shores of Jozini Dam in recent months, with a reported 69 elephants roaming the dam’s shores after escaping Pongola Game Reserve East into Phongola Nature Reserve. According to the reports, at least 25 elephants have been killed in Poaching incidents related to this conflict. In an incident on January 11th, tourists on a cruise boat on Jozini Dam were forced to take cover as poachers were firing shots nearby.

References for records about Pongola Game Reserve

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2024). Pongola Game Reserve, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at https://www.elephant.se/location2.php?location_id=3496. (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

Links to websites about Pongola Game Reserve

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