500 ELEPHANTS TO BE MOVED – BIGGEST TRANSLOCATION EVER!
We’re still Land Rovering north towards Ethiopia, the hassles with Renamo behind us now as we share a campfire with our friends from African Parks who do a great job of professionally administering wildlife parks across Africa. We’ve met with their teams in Rwanda’s Akagera Park and at Odzala in the Republic of Congo. They are doing great work in several African countries, have brought hope back to heavily poached Zukuma National Park in Chad and are now making an important difference here in Malawi where, with a team of experts, they’re planning to move up to 500 elephants from the beautiful Liwonde National Park on the Shire River and the Majete National Park lower down the Great Rift Valley – to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve some 3 hours away by ‘ Elephant Transport’ up the Lake Shore.
‘The reason for all this,’ explains good friend, African Parks Ops Manager, Lawrence Munro, ‘Is that Liwonde simply has too many of these giant pachyderms and it’s too close to Mozambican poaching incursions from across the border.’ Lawrence is right and with the moving of elephants to under-utilized Nkhotakota, a new elephant attraction for much needed tourism to Malawi will be created, and some of the ellies of Liwonde and Majete will be given their very best chance to survive and breed.
So we leave the beauty of Liwonde behind – with its wetlands, baobabs and massive Cathedral Mopanis – and trek up to Nkhotakota to see what sort of environment the ellies are being moved to. It’s a pristine piece of Africa and in a country of so much deforestation: how beautiful it is to drive through these thick Miombo woodlands that are ideal elephant country and better still, it doesn’t share a boundary with Mozambique.
The newly erected electric fences are ship-shape, fresh African Parks signage, the rangers in smart, new uniforms and one senses hope and political will. Gibson one of the rangers tells us, ‘This is the biggest movement of elephants ever. We are so excited!’ We salute you African Parks and for your vision of preserving 20 wildlife reserves by 2020. Highly professional management of our wildlife parks is what we need, if we are to survive the crisis that is especially facing our elephants, rhinos and other endangered species.
And so with Wilderness Central Africa and others as our partners, we launch our Land Rover-backed Elephant Art project to school children in the area, allowing them to add their voices to elephant conservation. Community youth involvement is key. In the words of the conservation icon, the late Dr Ian Player, ‘If we do not pass the baton of conservation over to the youth – we are doomed.’
BUSH NOTE FROM THE WARM HEART…
Friends, those of you who are starting to read with long arms or get into a tizz when you can’t find your glasses, know exactly what I’m talking about… Sight is something we all so take for granted and yet for many poor sighted mostly elderly people, especially in these deep rural areas, a simple pair or reading glasses can vastly improve their quality of life, allowing them to read, thread a needle more easily or weave a mat, basket or fishing net. For many, glasses, that we can so easily purchase at our local pharmacy, are not affordable or even available. So it’s humbling for us to be able to make a difference. This 4x4MegaWorld supported project, is called ‘Mashozi’s Rite to Sight’ named after my late wife, that wonderful character, Gill Holgate (Mashozi) who many years ago initiated the program which now has taken spectacles to over 100,000 people…
In Malawi we’d like to give A special thanks to our old friends, community -spirited Kayak Africa (Mumbo Island) and the Wilderness Safaris Central Africa team at Chinteche for also helping to facilitate the ‘Mashozi’s Rite to Sight’ work attached to this expedition. To you we say Zikomo and thanks. The continuation of the project is a wonderful tribute to Mashozi who took such delight in the instant gratification and joy that a pair of Rite to Sight glasses brings to the recipient. Lots more of this on-going, heart-warming work still to do…Will keep you posted as the adventure north unfolds. Cheers 4x4MegaWorld! Kingsley and the team.
Will keep you posted.