500 Elephants Update: August 13th saw the completion of the first half of the mass game and elephant translocation from Liwonde and Majete to help restock Nkhotakota (all within Malawi). The first half of 500 Elephants was a success. Two hundred and sixty-one elephants (21 of which were bulls, the rest made up 22 family groups) were successfully translocated, with 20 matriarchs and seven bulls being collared and monitored in their new home. One thousand, five hundred and ninety head of other species were also successfully moved to Nkhotakota, including sable antelope, buffalo, waterbuck, impala, warthog, eland and zebra. Tragically there was a human-wildlife conflict incident on August 13th that resulted in the death of three people and a bull elephant who broke through the fence in Nkhotakota and wandered more than 40 kilometres from the boundary. We remain vigilant in our conflict mitigation efforts and continue to do everything we can to prevent these situations from occurring.
This entire translocation was to done to help repopulate Nkhotakota after years of poaching, which had reduced that elephant herd from 1,500 to fewer than 100 individuals. Since taking over management there in August of 2015, African Parks has overhauled law enforcement, built a 78-kilometer electric ‘sanctuary’ fence within the entire parks’ perimeter for the newly translocated elephants, employed 70 to 80 people just to construct and monitor the fence, as well as worked with 13 chiefs spanning 534 villages in the four bordering districts of the park. Preparing Liwonde for the translocation and securing it to reduce human-wildlife conflict and poaching has led to more than 100 kilometers of roads being graded, the employment of 178 people to construct and monitor the 140-kilometer perimeter fence, and engagement with communities in seven Traditional Authorities around the park.
We were fortunate to have Board members, partners, donors, village chiefs and elders, and African Parks’ staff participate in a truly moving and monumental undertaking. Prince Harry joined us as part of our ground crew for almost three weeks and was an integral part of the team. Prince Harry, AP’s CEO Peter Fearnhead and AP’s Malawi Director Patricio Ndadzela met with Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika to discuss the translocation and the overall progress of African Parks’ management of Majete, Liwonde and Nkhotakota and the President seemed very pleased with what has been accomplished to date.
Communications: Communications and media continued to be primarily occupied with coverage of 500 Elephants for the month of August. World Elephant Day was on the 12th (which resulted in social media activity and support of African Parks from Taylor Swift, Kensington Palace and CNN Africa). The Independent published a Malawi travel piece on the same day; and one of the Netherlands’ top outlets (de Volkskrant) published a longer piece and video on 500 Elephants on August 16th. We look forward to sharing our own footage on the translocation over the coming weeks.
The French version of our 2015 Annual Report: Conservation at Scale was printed and distributed to our Francophone and French speaking partners and audiences. The electronic version can be viewed here.
Recruitment: Karin Norris recently joined African Parks in Johannesburg as our Human Resources Manager, a key function in supporting the long-term growth in terms of human capital for the organisation. She comes with over 10 years of HR experience and is joining us from serving as the Group Human Resources Manager at Micros South Africa.
Joel Hancock also joined African Parks as our Field Operations Manager (FOM) in Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia, as Dave Robertson who had previously occupied that role is transitioning to Nkhotakota in Malawi.