Jumbo task as Malawi moves 263 elephants to restock a degraded national park

Jumbo task as Malawi moves 263 elephants to restock a degraded national park

LIWONDE NATIONAL PARK, Malawi — Early one July morning, a helicopter with wildlife officials on board flies above the forests of Malawi’s Liwonde National Park in search of elephants. Within half an hour, a small herd has been spotted and the crew radios a support team on the ground. As the ground team gets in place, the pilot maneuvers the plane to herd the four elephants to an open area, descending low enough to allow the experts on board to fire tranquilizer darts at the elephants. It will take less than 8 minutes for the sedative to take effect, the officials say. As soon as the animals are down, the ground team starts taking measurements, collaring and labelling the elephats before tying ropes to their feet, hooking them to a crane and lifting the elephants into trucks. There, an antidote is administered to reverse the effects of the tranquilizer and get the elephants back on their feet ahead of the 350-kilometer (217-mile) journey to their new home in Kasungu National Park. These scenes played out repeatedly for a month, until more than 260 elephants were relocated from Liwonde National Park, managed by African Parks, a South Africa-headquartered NGO, to restock the government-run Kasungu National Park, where the elephant population has been hit by poaching. The translocation, estimated to cost more than $1 million, is aimed at building viable populations of the key species and promoting tourism in the park, Brighton Kumchedwa, director of Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife,…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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