The Aspinall Foundation

Field update: South Africa 2022/23

Posted by The Aspinall Foundation on 31-Jan-2023 11:03:26

Partnership with Wild & Free Continues to Save and Successfully Rewild Animals Across Mpumalanga Province

In April, we were delighted to announce our official partnership with
The Wild & Free Rehabilitation Centre to support the rewilding of
animals in South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province. At the start of the
year, our combined teams hoped to return more than 40 animals
to areas of protected wilderness in 2022. At the time of writing, we
have already released 83 animals together and the team receive
more calls every day.

We have worked together to rescue, rehabilitate and rewild species
including black-backed and side-striped jackals, bush babies,
genets, caracals and an orphaned white-tailed mongoose. The
partnership has seen us work closely to provide desperately needed
support for injured, orphaned and at-risk animals across the region.

Crocodile Rescue and Translocation

One of our notable projects was the rescue of two groups of
crocodiles: one from the recently closed Seaview Predator Park in
Gqeberha and another at-risk group who had been placed in the
Mpumalanga state quarantine facility. Until the intervention of our
teams, the crocodiles at Seaview were languishing in the closed
remains of a defunct visitor attraction, where they were at risk of
destruction if an appropriate new home could not be found for them.

In collaboration with the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks
Agency and the Nkomazi Local Municipality, we carefully moved
these threatened animals in specially constructed travel crates to a
quarantine area in the northeast province of Mpumalanga.

After clearing quarantine, six of the crocodiles – some approaching
ten feet in length – were returned to the wild in the 1,500-hectare
Lionspruit Reserve, making their new home amidst its scenic lakes
and dams. The remaining five animals were moved to Kwa Madwala
Private Game Reserve, a new facility that has never had crocodiles
before. By moving them to this new facility, we are helping to expand
the crocodile population in South Africa and the area they cover.

Rehabilitated Caracals Released

As part of the same operation, three orphaned caracals, which
were rehabilitated by the Wild & Free team, were also released. The
caracals – a male named Ingwe and two females named Elize and
Eloise – were found in their den by a farmer as kittens. Tragically,
the mother was found dead nearby and the Wild & Free team had to
act quickly to save the vulnerable youngsters.


After a 16-month period of rehabilitation, the team were confident that the cats were ready for a life in the wild, and the gates to their acclimatisation
enclosure were opened, releasing Ingwe, Elize and Eloise into the natural beauty of Lionspruit. Around the release area, the Wild & Free team have engaged with local farmers, who are proud to see the return of these stunning animals and to watch the population grow.

Securing the Lives of Countless Animals

Dereck Milburn, our Southern Africa Project Director, said, “This year alone we’ve saved the lives of countless animals across the province – and we couldn’t have done it without the Wild & Free team’s support and  expertise.”

Dierdre Joubert, founder of Wild & Free Rehabilitation Centre,
added, “Working in close collaboration with The Aspinall Foundation
has enabled us to seamlessly coordinate a multitude of interventions
to secure the lives of many different species at immediate risk. With
an additional release boma currently being constructed at Wild &
Free, the centre will be able to significantly increase its release and
rewilding capacity, further advancing our work in the region.”

Sure-footed Plans for Black-Footed Cats

We are delighted to be working with the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency to protect and breed black-footed cats at the Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, for future rewilding and reintroduction in South Africa.  These extremely rare predators, classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, are Africa’s smallest cat species, standing just eight inches high. Despite their diminutive size, these pint-sized felines are one of the most efficient predators on the planet, hunting with a 60%+ success rate and taking down a dozen small prey items per night. Their population is declining due to loss of prey species and land practices.


At the time of writing, the project has seven adult cats with seven adorable
kittens – four female and one male.  This tremendous success means we
are now the most successful breeder of black-footed cats in South Africa.

All the breeding females are first-time mums, and their kittens will be
released in the near future to help ensure the survival of the species.
All the released animals are closely monitored by our dedicated team to
ensure their survival.

Help us rescue even more animals >>

Topics: The Aspinall Foundation, back to the wild, south africa

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