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The royal‚ who once declared he would live in Africa if he was free to do as he wished‚ spent almost three weeks on the ground in Malawi with African Parks‚ a conservation NGO that manages protected areas and national parks on behalf of governments‚ where he served as part of the expert team and helped implement the first phase of “500 Elephants“.
This initiative is one of the largest and most significant elephant translocations in conservation history where up to 500 elephants are being moved over 350 kilometers across Malawi from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve‚ where the elephants will be able to thrive.
All three parks are managed by African Parks in partnership with the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW).
The 500 Elephants initiative‚ led by African Parks‚ will play a critical role in helping to secure a long-term future for Malawi’s elephants‚ the NGO says.
Prince Harry assisted with the first phase of the translocation during which 261 elephants were successfully re-homed in Nkhotakota. The remaining 239 elephants will be moved during the second phase which will occur in the summer of 2017.
“We are thrilled to have Prince Harry serve as an integral part of our translocation team” said Peter Fearnhead‚ CEO of African Parks. “He has extensive field experience and was extremely comfortable with the animals‚ whether helping an anaesthetised elephant to the ground and monitoring its breathing to affixing radio collars. He played a vital role in many aspects of this giant operation which requires not only all hands on deck‚ but a vigilance he exudes‚ and a commitment to the cause he embodies”.
Along with moving elephants‚ Prince Harry assisted with translocating a male rhino‚ a host of game species including antelope‚ buffalo‚ and zebra — more than 1‚500 head of game were also translocated to Nkhotakota to help restore the park — and he facilitated in re-collaring three lions in Majete with GPS collars to monitor and better protect them.
“There has to be a balance between the numbers of animals‚ and the available habitat. Just how nature intended it‚” said Prince Harry. “In this case‚ African Parks‚ in partnership with the Malawian government‚ have re-established a safe area for elephants to be moved back to. This simultaneously relieves the pressure in Liwonde‚ and restocks Nkhotakota so both populations of elephants can continue to grow”.
To view the two-minute film “The Journey of Giants” documenting Prince Harry’s involvement in African Parks’ ‘500 Elephants’ Initiative‚ please click here
Under mounting pressure from poaching‚ habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict‚ the African elephant is being increasingly threatened in many parts of the continent. Recent census results indicate they have been reduced to fewer than 350‚000. With between 30‚000 to 40‚000 elephants being poached every year to feed the insatiable demand for ivory‚ their long-term survival at risk.