African Parks and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in Malawi have teamed up for conservation and are taking on numerous projects to protect the country’s wildlife and preserve the nature reserves and parks, which have been overlooked in the past. Recently, we posted about 4 cheetahs being released into Liwonde National Park, which are now the first cheetahs to live in the park in over 100 years. And now, we turn our focus to a project called 500 Elephants (#elesnewhome), which is another undertaking by the dynamic team between national government and private organisation.
Watch Prince Harry on the ground at the elephant location:
This project began a year ago when the first elephants were moved from Liwonde and Majete – two Malawian parks which have too many elephants to sustain – and relocated to Nkhotakhota Wildlife Reserve, which has seen the devastating loss of over 90% of its elephant population. Years of poaching have decimated Nkhotakota, which has not had proper security or management to prevent unlawful poaching. What used to be a park thriving with around 1500 elephants was left with only 100 individuals before African Parks and the DNPW took on the management and secure fencing and protection has been allocated to the area.
Last year, 261 elephants were darted and driven the 300km northward journey from Liwonde and Majete to Nkhotakota where they were released. This year, a further 150 elephants have been successfully translocated, showing the exceptional progress made on this enourmous task. Prince Harry has been a part of the journey from the beginning, using his voice and social platform to spread the word and create awareness about the plight of elephants in Africa as he helps with the physical process on locating, darting, loading, and releasing entire herds of elephants.
Since the project began, the elephants in the newly secure Nkhotakota are thriving. Evidence of elephants having given birth in the park is seen in the littlest members of the herds, which shows that (given an elephant has a 22 month gestation period), the elephants were already conceived when they were relocated and survived the immense journey to their new home. This is an indication of a job very well done by the teams involved. New herds of elephants are being moved over this time and new life is being brought to this revived area of 1800 square kilometres. The 100km fenceline that has gone up along the border of the park has almost entirely eliminated human-wildlife conflict, which is extremely promising for the future of this Malawian park.