Malawi Elephant Rescue Resumes – Nine More Elephants Saved

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Cape Town, South Africa
A further nine elephants were evacuated to safety in Malawi this morning after courts threw out a challenge to have their relocation stopped.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) said it was delighted the High Court of Malawi last night rejected a challenge to the rescue project and ruled the capture and translocation of the elephants should continue. The animals which have been at the centre of fierce human-elephant conflict are being moved from Phirilongwe District, just south of Lake Malawi to Majete Widlife Reserve.

“There was great excitement among the local community here yesterday evening,” said Neil Greenwood, Campaigns Officer for IFAW, who is assisting with the move. “At least 300 villagers sang and danced outside our capture headquarters to celebrate the court support for the IFAW project.”

IFAW’s capture team went straight to work this morning and safely captured a family group of nine elephants – five males and four females, including a very young calf.

“After an enforced break of 10-days there is no time to lose, so the capture team got to work at first light today and the nine elephants are on their way to Majete,” said Greenwood.

Today’s capture brings the tally of elephants relocated to 18 – the mission intends to rescue the entire herd of more than 60 elephants in the next few weeks and move them to put an end to years of fierce human-elephant conflict in the district.

Dozens of people have been killed by the elephants and the elephants in turn are killed and cruelly persecuted by local subsistence farmers intent on protecting their crops and livelihoods from the animals.

An extensive community consultation process prior to the exercise revealed that the majority of community members supported the relocation effort.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) has partnered with the government of Malawi to rescue the animals.

IFAW said the Malawi government has taken an ethical, pragmatic approach to solving the dilemma of the Phirilongwe elephants by partnering with them to move the elephants to Majete Wildlife Reserve which is formally protected and offers the elephants a safe, secure home for the long-term.

IFAW said it remained dedicated to focusing on regional conservation efforts such as trans-boundary wildlife linkages to preempt human-wildlife conflict situations similar to that which has existed in Phirilongwe.

For more information on the translocation and on making a donation to support the move, please visit www.ifaw.org. Also, for frequent updates on the move, visit IFAW’s Animal Rescue Blog at www.animalrescueblog.org.

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Cynthia Moss, IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia