This July, 250 elephants are being translocated from Liwonde National Park to Kasungu National Park in Malawi as part of a national conservation initiative designed to maintain healthy habitats in the national parks, establish stable and resilient elephant populations, and ensure the prosperity of local communities that live alongside them. The translocation is being undertaken through a collaboration between Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), African Parks and IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare).
Liwonde National Park
In 2015, DNPW partnered with African Parks to improve security and ecologically rehabilitate Liwonde National Park for people and wildlife, and to realise its full tourism potential. It has since set a benchmark for ambitious restoration initiatives which, in just a few years, have helped to re-establish key species and restore healthy ecosystem processes. In 2016, one of the largest elephant translocations in history commenced, relocating 366 elephants to alleviate pressure on Liwonde’s habitat, reduce conflict and repopulate Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Cheetahs and lions were reintroduced in 2017 and 2018 respectively, followed by a black rhino translocation in 2019, and wild dogs in 2021. Containing growing wildlife populations and an increasing number of elephants which is exerting pressure on the park’s habitat, Liwonde is well positioned as a source from which to help repopulate other secure protected areas.
Kasungu National Park
Kasungu National Park is the second largest national park in Malawi, covering 2,100 km2, which is four times the size of Liwonde. The park was once home to around 1,200 elephants in the 1970s but rampant poaching over the years reduced the population to a mere 49 by 2015. IFAW, in partnership with DNPW, has been working in Kasungu since 2015 to address law enforcement, wildlife crime, infrastructure and capacity within the park. By reducing poaching in the park, the elephant population has grown to an estimated 120 individuals. However, these numbers are still considered too low for a viable population. The introduction of a further 250 elephants from Liwonde will augment Kasungu’s elephant population, ensuring its long-term viability.
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