Wildlife Protection and Restoration
Wildlife across Africa are under siege, whether elephants for their ivory, rhinos for their horns, or bushmeat for local consumption. African elephants number around 350,000 down from 10 million just over a hundred years ago, and fewer than 25,000 rhinos are left on the continent. Wildlife habitats, such as forests, woodlands, savannahs and wetlands are under enormous pressure and are almost entirely restricted to Africas national parks, due to being converted at an alarming rate for the increasing demands of an increasing human population. Africas ecosystems and biomes are under tremendous strain and they urgently need to be conserved before they collapse, and are lost forever.
African Parks wildlife conservation approach combines habitat management, wildlife reintroductions and translocations, monitoring programs, as well as relevant research to inform conservation actions. Often the parks require total rehabilitation including the reintroduction of wildlife that has become locally extinct for a variety of reasons. Where necessary, we secure park boundaries through fencing, mitigate conflict, and most importantly we implement stringent law enforcement and anti-poaching practices to alleviate the key threats and provide for safe, secure areas in which wildlife can thrive.
In 2016, we conducted nine wildlife surveys in eight parks, collared and tracked 175 animals representing nine species: elephant, rhino, lion, cheetah, giraffe, eland, buffalo, hyaena and the shoebill. In 2017 we brought rhinos back to Akagera, in Rwanda, cheetahs back to Liwonde in Malawi, and will have completed the historic translocation of 500 elephants to Nkhotakota also in Malawi. We documented 80 new elephant calves in Zakouma, in Chad where we have practically eliminated poaching, and the population surpassed 500 individuals, which is the first increase recorded in over a decade.
All of this is done with the aim of preserving ecosystems and naturally occurring ecological processes, resulting in healthy watersheds, clean air, carbon sequestration, food security and overall better health for wildlife and people.
Research and Surveys
Research is a vital part of monitoring the health of the ecosystem as well as an effective way to track the management progress of the park. Regular censuses provide essential information on wildlife trends, which even with the best monitoring can take several years to determine, but ultimately dictate whether interventions are working. The diverse and often rare fauna and flora found in each of the parks also provide numerous opportunities for research institutions and other partners to carry out important studies and investigations. Data from these projects can be used to assist communities in addressing some of the challenges they face, such as improved methods to mitigate wildlife conflict, or strategies that could increase fishery yields, which is why, where possible, the parks can serve as open laboratories.
Monitoring individual animals, through collaring or fitting tracking devices, helps us gather critical information on ecology and behaviour, survivorship and mortality, and how to best protect them. Bytracking elephant movements, for example, we can determine if they migrate outside of the park, and if so, how best to ensure their safety outside park boundaries. Through monitoring efforts, we can establish how we should focus our resources, both regarding time and spatial planning, or the when and where of our operations. Wildlife monitoring also provides us with essential information for long-term land-use planning and enables us to provide evidence that could lead to potentially changing park boundaries and aiding in connectivity beyond the parks.
Translocations and Reintroductions
Translocations are a valuable, resource-intensive conservation management strategy that can be applied to protected areas to actively reduce the risk of species extinction by broadening their range, increasing their numbers, or establishing entirely new populations. African Parks has carried out numerous successful translocations, most recently the movement of 500 elephants from Liwonde and Majete to Nkhotakota, of which all three parks are under the management of African Parks and within Malawi. We also have carried out several reintroductions to establish a healthy, genetically diverse, self-sustaining population to an area where it has been extirpated. In May 2017, we returned 18 eastern black rhinoceroses to Akagera in Rwanda after the last individual was documented in the country in 2007. These methods can prove to be very successful once the parks key threats have been resolved which typically means effective law enforcement to ensure the safety of the park and it wild inhabitants. Both Majete in Malawi, and Akagera have achieved Big Five status under our management due to translocations and reintroductions.
When you donate to African Parks, because of our endowment and the generosity of our boards, 100% of your support goes directly to the parks where you are helping us bring species back to their former ranges, and helping us to create safe areas for them to breed, and thrive.