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© Will Whitford

© Will Whitford

What is “500 Elephants”

“500 Elephants” is the largest ever translocation of elephants to a single reserve, and is one of the most significant translocation initiatives in conservation history. African Parks, in collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), is moving up to 500 elephants, in addition to around 1,500 other animals of various species, on a one-way journey of approximately 350km from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve in southern Malawi to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in northern Malawi. All three parks are managed by African Parks in partnership with DNPW. Starting July 2016, 250 elephants will be moved from Liwonde, with another 250 to be moved from Majete in July 2017.

What is a translocation?

Translocations are a valuable, resource-intensive conservation management strategy that can be applied to protected areas to actively reduce risk of species extinction by broadening their range and increasing their numbers. Exemplifying proactive conservation, “500 Elephants” is an example of human-assisted migration, and is these elephants’ best hope for a sustainable future in which herds have the opportunity to stabilize and grow.

What precedent does this translocation set?

A project of this scale is logistically challenging and requires substantial capacity. What this initiative demonstrates is that scale does not have to be a limitation. Seemingly extreme measures can be taken to alleviate overstocked parks, to restock new parks, and to relocate animals from unprotected areas to protected areas. This translocation also showcases the extraordinary lengths people from various sectors will go to actively protect an endangered species.

About the Parks

partner_liwondeLiwonde National Park

Liwonde is known for some of the best river-based wildlife viewing in all of Africa. This ecosystem supports over 400 species of birds and harbours Malawi’s largest remaining populations of elephant and critically endangered black rhino.

partner_majeteMajete Wildlife Reserve

Majete is a true conservation success story. Prior to African Park’s involvement, the park was devoid of all wildlife, but today is now a Big Five reserve where thousands of historically occurring animals have been reintroduced.

partner_nkhotakotaNkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Nkhotakota is the country’s oldest park and home to remnant populations of elephant, waterbuck and other species. By controlling the key threat, the park is poised to be one of Malawi’s most important wildlife sanctuaries.


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African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks manages 10 national parks and protected areas in seven countries covering six million hectares: Malawi, Zambia, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Chad. Visit www.african-parks.org to learn more.