African Parks, in collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, are helping to preserve this threatened species by moving 500 elephants in one of the biggest events ever to happen to Malawi’s wildlife Tourism.
Populations of African elephants are being depleted at concerning rates, with fewer than 450,000 remaining. Poaching and habitat loss have sent numbers into serious decline. Malawi’s recent successes in anti-poaching and management of human-wildlife conflict have led to a population surplus in two of the country’s 9 protected areas, Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve.
This huge relocation starts this week in Liwonde National Park, home to Malawi’s largest population of 800 elephants. This delicate process involves the use of helicopters to dart the elephants, which are then lifted by crane onto trucks to start their 300 km road journey to a newly created sanctuary.
The elephants are being moved to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, close to Lake Malawi, which for years had been depleted of wildlife. Once home to over 1500, now as little as 100 remain. A 16,000-hectare sanctuary has been built, creating a safe and secure habitat for these animals to thrive before being released, in time, into the wider Reserve. As well as the elephant, there are plans to relocate a further 1500 animals from a variety of species to the Reserve.
This is an extremely hopeful story for conservation, elephants and particularly for Malawi. Kelly While from Malawi Tourism says “We are delighted with African Parks’ plans to relocate and reintroduce species into Malawi’s Parks. If Malawi had a perceived weakness in tourism terms, it was that some of its neighbours offered a ‘better’ safari experience. But, as well as helping to safeguard the future for these magnificent animals, these developments will result in a total transformation of Malawi’s wildlife and safaris. Malawi will become one of the most complete destinations in Africa – Lake, Landscape, Culture and now Wildlife experiences of the very highest quality. Warm, welcoming and unspoilt, Malawi really is just waiting to be discovered.”