500 Malawi Elephants Relocated To Benefit Conservation

A massive project to move 500 elephants by truck and crane to protect the threatened species is now taking place in Malawi.

The elephants are immobilized by darts fired from a helicopter as this man-made animal migration project for the benefit of conservation begins as development impacts Africa’s wildlife areas.

Conservationists flip elephants’ large ears over their eyes to block out light, then prop open the tips of their trunks with twigs to ensure that they are able to breathe properly. The elephants are then hung upside down from ankle straps and loaded onto trucks via crane for an 185-mile road trip to a more secure area.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 9.16.34 AMAfrican elephants are in extreme danger due to the threat of poachers and human interference. The Malawi elephant project aims to protect these elephants on a larger scale.

Craig Reid, manager of Malawi’s Liwonde National Park, which is run by African Parks, a non-profit group based in Johannesburg: ”This is very much the way that we’ll have to manage things in the future.”

The elephants are being relocated from Liwonde and Majete to another park, Nkhotakota, where poachers have essentially wiped out the entire elephant population.

African Parks plans to move 500 elephants within the next few months and again next year when vehicles are able to stand southern Africa’s dry winter.

Although there is some risk and stress involved as the animals are drugged and moved in what seems like a drastic manner, South African conservationists and the commercial wildlife industry have made strides to refine and shorten the process as much as possible.

George Wittemyer, an African elephant expert and associate professor at Colorado State University: “I see it as something that’s here to stay, for better or worse.”

African Parks’ goal is that elephants in Malawi can eventually serve as a reservoir to restore additional African elephant populations. Africa is estimated to have fewer than 500,000 elephants, down from several million a century ago.

Source: Sun Sentinel


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