Epic rescue to save endangered elephants in Malawi

Thursday, 4 June, 2009
Cape Town, South Africa

More than 60 endangered elephants under threat of certain death will be evacuated to safety in an epic rescue effort that begins in the southern African country of Malawi early next week.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) has partnered with the government of Malawi to rescue animals and people from fierce human-elephant conflict in the Phirilongwe area, just south of Lake Malawi.

“Some elephants have had their trunks amputated by snares set by local villagers, while others are suffering from wounds caused by bullets, arrows and nail-embedded planks as well as poisoning.” said Jason Bell-Leask, IFAW Director Southern Africa.

At least 10 people and a number of elephants have been killed as increasing human populations have destroyed habitat for the endangered animals and forced them to eat crops or damage the granaries of the local, mostly subsistence farmers.

IFAW said the Malawi government has taken an ethical, pragmatic approach to solving the dilemma of the endangered elephants by partnering with them to move the animals to Majete Wildlife Reserve.

“In order to save these elephants, we must act now – otherwise they will be killed as “problem animals”,” said Bell-Leask. “This epic translocation of 60 plus elephants solves a major conservation problem and ultimately ensures the safety of both animals and people.

“It sets an example for taking an ethical approach to elephant management practices.”

The IFAW capture and translocation of the endangered elephants kicks off on June 7th and will run throughout the course of the month. Initially family groups will be darted and tranquilised from helicopter or on foot. They will then be loaded into transport vehicles for the six hour journey to Majete Wildlife Reserve.

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

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