About Us

© 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 350 km 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. In July 2016, 261 elephants and 1,117 head of game animals were moved from Liwonde and Majete to Nkhotakota. Starting June 2017, another 250 additional elephants will be moved to Nkhotakota over six weeks.

What is a translocation?

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

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.

How do you prepare to move 500 elephants?

The logistics associated with a translocation of this scale and complexity require months of intensive planning and preparation. African Parks is undertaking this immense task with our expert teams and with contracted professionals from Conservation Solutions. The total distance that will be covered throughout the manoeuvres will roughly equate to 125,000 km, which is equivalent to three times around the world, using four 30-ton rig trucks from South Africa for capture and delivery. Staff, trucks and equipment will have journeyed for five days to be on site in Liwonde by early June and then in Majete in July of 2017. Within Liwonde, Majete and Nkhotakota, hundreds of kilometres of roads and river crossings have been repaired and constructed to improve both vehicle and animal accessibility. Road networks have been enhanced to facilitate the construction of the requisite fencing in Nkhotakota, including that of a 47,000-acre sanctuary and the 445,000 acres of the wider park. This additional infrastructure will be an invaluable asset to the parks’ tourism capacity and the prevention of human-wildlife conflict. It is also an important source of employment for local communities.

How do you move 500 elephants?

The elephant translocation has been occurring in phases, each of which has been carefully planned to ensure minimal stress for the animals. Elephants are darted by helicopter and retrieved from the field by crane and recovery trucks. They are then awoken in purpose-built ‘wake-up’ crates that are loaded onto 30-ton low-bed trucks for their journey to Nkhotakota. On arrival, the elephants are released into a boma – a holding facility with food and water that is protected by a perimeter of electric fencing. Following a period of 12 to 24 hours, they are then released into the larger sanctuary.

What about other game?

In 2016, 1,117 head of game were moved from Liwonde and Majete to Nkhotakota. This included buffalo, eland, impala, kudu, waterbuck and warthog. In 2017, additional teams will be mobilised to capture hundreds of buffalo, waterbuck and sable in Liwonde and Majete for transport to Nkhotakota. Eland, zebra and hartebeest will also be translocated from Majete to Liwonde.

How does this translocation inform future conservation strategies?

As technology and veterinary innovations improve, and as we learn from experience, we are starting to gather a body of knowledge that will facilitate more extensive use of large-scale translocations as a conservation management tool in the future.


About the Parks

partner_liwondeLiwonde National Park

As technology and veterinary innovations improve, and as we learn from experience, we are starting to gather a body of knowledge that will facilitate more extensive use of large-scale translocations as a conservation management tool in the future.


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

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.

Resources

Want to show your support for #500Elephants and #KeepItMoving? View, download and share these resources to show your support.

DONATE

Join Us

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 11 national parks and protected areas in eight countries covering six million hectares: Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia. Visit www.african-parks.org to learn more.