Conservation efforts and careful reintroductions over the last 40 years have seen the endemic species flourish, including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, black and white rhinoceros, cheetah, wild dog, spotted hyena, brown hyena, roan antelope, sable antelope, and a variety of plains game and small mammals.
Lapalala has been at the forefront of private rhino conservation in South Africa. Since its establishment in 1981 the white rhinoceros population was increased and in 1990 the first black rhino to be managed by a private reserve in South Africa were acquired from the Natal Park’s Board. The population of both species has been increased over the years and Lapalala Wilderness is a key sanctuary for rhinoceros in Africa.
Roan antelope are endemic to Lapalala but the species were hunted extensively in the early part of the twentieth century. In 1960 the first steps were taken to protect the diminishing population and by 1971 a core herd of roan antelope were relocated to the Percy Fyfe Provincial Nature Reserve.
Roan are physically the second largest antelope species in Africa. The handsome animals have strikingly marked faces, large prominent ears with tufted ends, and long sharp recurved horns. Their coats are reddish-brown with lighter undersides, and this mixture of colours gives them their name. Although still relatively common in Central and Western Africa, Roan are becoming increasingly scarce in South Africa.
Lapalala established a dedicated roan antelope breeding project in 2010 and one of the bulls with the original Lapalala genetics was returned to Lapalala from Percy Fyfe.
The breeding project has been a success with well over 150 animals bred over the last few years with animals returned to the open system of Lapalala, from time to time, and the core breeding animals managed at the breeding centre on Lapalala North.
The African buffalo is a key species for South African protected areas as it is one of the ‘Big Five’ mammals and plays an important part in ecological processes.
Due to the prevalence of a number of bovine diseases and in an effort to contain the spread of diseases all buffalo that are free of bovine TB, brucellosis, foot and mouth as well as corridor disease have to be maintained in protected areas to the west of the “red-line” and away from the diseased animals that are contained in the Greater Kruger National Park.
Innovative projects were established to breed up numbers of disease free buffalo and large herds of these animals have been bred as part of a Lapalala buffalo breeding project on both Elandsberg in the Cape and on Lapalala for eventual release into the Lapalala open system.