In a real life Noah’s Ark story, Prince Harry assists conservationists in translocating 250 elephants to their new home in Malawi. The first round of the translocation process of a total of 500 elephants was completed last month, seeing just over 250 elephants rehomed into a sanctuary at Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in central Malawi.
The world’s media have been closely following Malawi’s elephants since the first elephant family was translocated from Liwonde National Park on 5th July 2016. Prince Harry joined the operation in its final stages, which saw him supporting the African Parks team with the delicate process of darting and capturing the elephants to load them onto trucks for their 350km journey north. Not just elephants were involved in this, one of Africa’s biggest ever animal translocations. Other games species totalling 1117 individuals were also moved including 404 waterbuck, 200 sable, 199 warthog, 122 impala, 100 kudu and 92 buffalo.
The operation ensured the safeguarding of not only the elephants, but also the livelihood of local agricultural communities. Surplus populations of elephant were resulting in habitat degradation and human wildlife conflict. Their new home is a vast wildlife sanctuary that was once home to over 1500 elephants, but due to poaching only 100 remained. Peter Fearnhead, CEO for African Parks said, “The reason we are moving these elephants is to prevent further habitat degradation and mitigate conflict in Liwonde and Majete, as well as to restock Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. To do this, we have to be sure of their long-term security, which is why we have already overhauled law enforcement and anti-poaching measures in the elephants new home.”
Kelly White from Malawi Tourism said “The future for Nkhotakota looks bright, the next 12 months will see a repopulated park both with elephants and over a thousand individuals of other game species providing a premier elephant sanctuary for Malawi and a tourism hotspot for the country in the coming years. With Malawi’s three premier parks now benefitting from the proactive management of African Parks Malawi will soon have a high quality safari experience on offer to match its existing lake, landscape and cultural highlights making it perhaps one of the most complete destinations in Africa”.
Phase two of the process to move an additional 250 elephants from Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve will commence in July 2017, along with plans to secure populations of lions and cheetah to reintroduce into Liwonde National Park in early 2017.