IFAW extends fence to protect wildlife and communities surrounding Kasungu National Park

Less than a month since 691 wildlife were translocated to Kasungu National Park — that included 263 elephants — another major investment from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) will repair and extend a 50km stretch of the park’s boundary fence to protect wildlife and its surrounding communities.

In a statement, IFAW said they have already constructed 40kms of fencing, providing employment to more than 150 people living outside the park.

Patricio Ndadzela, IFAW director for Malawi and Zambia is quoted as saying: “This is another significant investment by IFAW in Kasungu and a further example of our commitment to ensure wildlife remains safe from poachers and at the same time protect communities living outside the park from wandering animals.

Patricio Ndadzela, IFAW director for Malawi and Zambia

“The rehabilitation work will be done in phases, with a total of 20 kilometres expected to be repaired during the current fiscal year,” he said.

The announcement of the investment was made at the graduation parade of 18 fence attendants, including three women, who have been trained and hired by IFAW and Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife to patrol and maintain Kasungu’s solar-powered electric fence.

IFAW, through its Combating Wildlife Crime project, has been active in Kasungu National Park since 2017 — virtually halting poaching of wildlife, upgrading infrastructure and supporting livelihood projects for surrounding communities.

Kasungu’s elephant population increased from 40 in 2014 to 121 in 2022 due to the success of IFAW’s interventions in the park and — with the translocation — the numbers are now at 384.

The translocation of the elephants include other wildlife such as  impala, buffalo, warthogs, sable and waterbuck, that is set to significantly improves Kasungu’s tourism potential, with the added benefit of providing jobs to surrounding communities.

The elephant translocation exercise in July

Further extending the fence will help prevent incidents of human-elephant conflict. During the translocation that took place between June 27‬-July 29, two people got killed in Kasungu after been attacked by two bull elephants, which had escaped from the national park.

The incident happened after the bulls strayed out of their protected area where one went as far as Chisemphere community in the district and the other at a community named Mkanda in neighbouring district of Mchinji and upon confronting human beings, the bulls became aggressive and killed the people and injured another.

In an interview then, Kumchedwa said both bulls were euthanized (put to death humanely) because it was difficult to have them captured and brought back into the Park adding that two elephants might have been attempting to trace their route back to their original habitat — Liwonde National Park.

Kumchedwa was quick to say the sorrounding communities are always engaged to be on high alert of stray animals, saying when conflict incidents of this nature between wildlife and humans take place, the majority of cases is a result of people getting too close to witness the animals and as they usually mob the animal, it becomes aggressive.

The wildlife were translocated approximately 350kms via road from Liwonde, managed by African Parks, to Kasungu, which is managed by the Wildlife Department and supported by IFAW.

After the successful exercise, African Parks emphasized that the addition of elephants to Kasungu will assist towards economic gains through that will also contribute towards local employment from community members as well as fuel a conservation-led economy.

The National Parks & Wildlife Department partnered with African Parks for the management of Liwonde since 2015 and the following year, the park undertook one of the largest elephant translocations in history in 2016 and 2017, which saw the relocation of 520 elephants.

Of these, 366 were moved from Liwonde to alleviate pressure on habitat, reduce conflict and repopulate Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, also managed by African Parks.

The National Parks & Wildlife Department also attested that the further translocation of elephants and additional wildlife to Kasungu is another successful national conservation initiative that will not only establish another viable elephant population in the country but also further stimulate tourism.

Kasungu is the second largest national park in Malawi covering 2,100 square kilometres, which is four times the size of Liwonde and in partnership with the IFAW, the Wildlife Department has been working in Kasungu since 2015 addressing law enforcement, wildlife crime, infrastructure and capacity building within the park.

The park was home to about 1,200 elephants in the 1970s before poaching reduced their number to 49 by 2015. Before the conclusion of this translocation there were 120 elephants in Kasungu, the introduction of an additional 263 elephants from Liwonde will support the increase of the population in the park.

Ndadzela also emphasised that their partnership with the Malawi Government is not over and pledged to continue working at Kasungu to ensure that the Park is fully restored to its former glory. We thank all partners and individuals who played different roles to ensure that the exercise is a success.”

IFAW — a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world — supports the Department of Wildlife in law enforcement, community engagement and fencing, amongst other activities.

It rescues, rehabilitates and releases animals as well as restoring and protecting their natural habitats. To solve the urgent and complicated problems it faces, IFAW matches fresh thinking with bold action by, amongst others, partnering with local communities, governments, NGOs and corporate businesses.

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