African Parks — a conservation NGO working on behalf of governments — will be relocating 500 elephants over 350 kilometres across Malawi, from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.
Liwonde and Majete’s high density of elephants is putting pressure on resources and bringing them into conflict with human populations.
Meanwhile, although there were previously as many as 1,500 elephants in Nkhotakota, their numbers have plummeted due to poaching, and before the start of the initiative the reserve was home to just 100 of the animals.
Assisting in the first phase of the ambitious operation, Prince Harry helped to successfully rehome 261 elephants in Nkhotakota. The remaining 239 will be moved during the second phase, taking place next summer.
“There has to be a balance between the numbers of animals, and the available habitat. Just how nature intended it,” said Prince Harry.
“In this case, African Parks, in partnership with the Malawian government, have re-established a safe area for elephants to be moved back to. This simultaneously relieves the pressure in Liwonde, and restocks Nkhotakota so both populations of elephants can continue to grow.”
© Frank Weiter / African Parks
The Prince spent nearly three weeks in Malawi working with African Parks, where he also helped to translocate male rhino, antelope, buffalo, and zebra, and worked with the NGO to re-collar three lions with GPS collars in Majete.
“We are thrilled to have Prince Harry serve as an integral part of our translocation team,” commented CEO of African Parks Peter Fearnhead.
“He has extensive field experience and was extremely comfortable with the animals, whether helping an anesthetised elephant to the ground and monitoring its breathing to affixing radio collars.”
Although elephants are under great pressure from habitat loss, poaching, and human conflict, 500 Elephants aims to secure a future for the elephants where they can thrive.
“We’re looking head on at the consequences of well-managed protected areas like Majete with increasing populations of elephants and other species, and how this creates opportunities for wildlife and communities,” continues Fearnhead.
“It’s a story of hope and survival, and serves as inspiration as to what is possible.”
Main image: Prince Harry spent nearly three weeks working with African Parks to translocate 261 elephants in Malawi. © Frank Weiter/African Parks