Translocations are increasingly important tools for endangered species conservation, but their success is often uncertain. We analyzed 125 time series of grazing mammal translocations in South African protected areas. Some 94% of translocations succeeded (66% unambiguously) even though most populations began with <15 individuals and most of the species involved are of conservation concern. Adding new individuals to existing small populations increases per capita growth rates and seems to prevent translocations from failing. Growth of the translocated populations is both greater and less variable than wild mammal populations and appears less affected by the typically important ecological factors (e.g., initial propagule size, precipitation, reserve size, or presence within historical range). One-third of the populations showed robust signs of density dependence but we detect few examples of Allee effects. Our results, from empirical time series of small populations, offer new insights into achieving success for translocation programs limited to releasing few individuals.