Elephant Conservation

Poaching, habitat loss, and human conflict have led to the devastating loss of millions of elephants across Africa in the last 100 years.

In Zakouma National Park in Chad, the population plummeted from 4,300 elephants to just 450 in just eight short years due to poaching. But since 2010 when we entered into a long-term agreement with the Chadian Government, we overhauled law enforcement, provided expert training to rangers, involved the local community, and we addressed the challenges of poaching head on. In creating a safe haven, elephants began to breed and for the first time in decades, their population is finally on the rise. In 2011 we counted only one calf under the age of five years old, but in 2018 we counted 127.

Zakouma is just one success story. Thanks to the efforts of our Rangers and in collaboration with local communities, we’re also seeing a reduction in poaching and elephant numbers rising in Akagera National Park in Rwanda, Majete Wildlife Reserve, Liwonde National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, and Garamba National Park in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

How We're Saving the Elephants

500 Elephants

Between 2016 to 2017, we undertook one of the largest elephant translocations in history. We moved a total of 520 elephants across Malawi from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve, to reduce conflict and pressure on natural resources, to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. The move helped to establish a thriving elephant population in Nkhotakota, increasing it from 100 to 586 elephants, and to help create a conservation-led economy through tourism and employment. “500 Elephants” is a story of how conserving elephants can help local people, and where nature thrives, people thrive.


Investing in local communities

© Kyle de Nobrega

African Parks employs local community members, invests in education, provides health care and attracts tourism to parks which benefits local communities. In 2020 alone we created 3,219 jobs, generated $3.07M in tourism revenue and received over 43,000 tourists in the 19 parks under our management. Further, we built and supported 105 schools and provided more than 108,000 people with access to healthcare. The future of protected areas hinges on whether the people who live in and around these areas value them, and to truly value them they must benefit from them. 

Protecting our wildlife

To protect wildlife, we have created Law Enforcement units in each of the parks under our management which are composed of highly trained and equipped rangers operating on foot, horseback, boats, and in vehicles, helicopters and airplanes. Some teams even have K9 units. The overall goal of these teams is to uphold the country’s wildlife laws, safeguard wildlife populations within parks, keep illegal activity out of the parks like poaching, and provide safe places for the surrounding human communities.

Odzala Forest Elephants
© Andrew Beck

7% of global population of forest elephants find sanctuary in Odzala

Forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) are an elusive species of African elephants which inhabit the rainforests of west and central Africa. Due to the dense nature of their habitat they are notoriously hard to monitor, but key threats such as habitat loss and poaching are believed to have had a devastating impact on the population, decreasing it to a mere 100,000 today. As a result, well managed protected areas, like Odzala-Kokoua National Park, are essential for the survival of this critically endangered species. The Congo Government partnered with African Parks in 2010 to manage the park. Since then effective law enforcement and community development initiatives have afforded Odzala’s 7,270 elephants the protection the species requires for a healthy future.

Where to see Elephants

  • Akagera National Park
    In just 10 years, Akagera has gone from battling for its survival to a flourishing national park. In 2017 together with the Howard G Buffett Foundation and the Rwandan Government, we reintroduced rhinos after a 10-year absence, and brought back lions in 2015 after a 20-year absence. Poaching has practically been eliminated and today is Rwanda's only Big Five park, repeatedly recognised as a leading wildlife destination in Africa.
  • Garamba National Park
    As one of Africa's oldest national parks and a World Heritage site, Garamba is home to one of the largest populations of elephants in the DRC of around 1,200. Together with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), and with support from several donors and partners, we have managed to reduce elephant poaching by 98% since 2016.
  • Liwonde National Park
    In 2016 and 2017 Liwonde National Park was one of three parks that partook in the historic 500 elephant translocation, where we moved 336 elephants from the park to Nkhotakota to help to reduce human-elephant conflict in Liwonde. Today, conflict and poaching at are an all-time low, and tourism is on the rise. Visitors come to see the parks elephants, as well as the newly introduced lions and cheetahs, and the growing rhino population.
  • Majete Wildlife Reserve
    Majete Wildlife Reserve had little to no wildlife 16 years ago. However, after a series of reintroductions that involved over 2,900 animals from 15 different species including elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, giraffe and more recently cheetahs, the reserve is thriving and supports countless wildlife, and community projects around its periphery.
  • Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
    As the largest of the three parks under our management in Malawi, Nkhotakota was just until recently an empty forest. But by August 2017, after a two-year period, we translocated almost 500 elephants and 2,000 other plains game animals to Nkhotakota to restore the reserve’s ecosystem and bolster tourism to support the local communities.
  • Odzala-Kokoua National Park
    Odzala-Kokoua National Park is located deep in the heart of the Congo Basin – the second largest rain forest in the world. Managed by African Parks in partnership with the Congolese Government, Odzala is home to a large population of several thousand of the critically endangered forest elephants, Western lowland gorillas and an abundance other species, including globally significant bird populations.
  • Pendjari National Park
    Pendjari National Park is situated in Benin and is home to the largest remaining intact ecosystem in all of West Africa. Forging a partnership with the National Geographic Society, the Wyss Foundation, and the Benin Government, African Parks has helped to create a safe haven for West Africa's largest population of elephants of around 1,700 individuals, and we have conducted the largest collaring exercise in the history of the park to better monitor and protect this globally important population of elephants.
  • Zakouma National Park
    Zakouma has undergone a complete transformation in the past nine years. Poaching has been essentially eliminated, the elephant population is on the rise for the first time in decades, the park has become one of the most globally significant migratory bird habitats, and lions, leopards, giraffe, and cheetahs are all on the rise.

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