June has been an extraordinary month with final preparations for and the commencement of the second phase of the elephant and other game translocations occurring from Liwonde and Majete to Nkhotakota in Malawi. This included grading of roads in Majete and Liwonde, the continued fencing of Nkhotakota’s perimeter to enlarge the sanctuary, securing all the necessary permits, and moving all the trucks and equipment from South Africa. The actual translocation began on June 16th and in just the last two weeks of June, we successfully moved 71 elephants and 101 buffalo from Liwonde. I have been spending the majority of my time on the ground in Malawi, and have been beyond pleased to host many of you, who have been able to witness and even participate in this extraordinary event. I’m also happy to report that at the end of June, we had a successful meeting with the President of Malawi, the Honourable Peter Mutharika, where we discussed our excellent collaboration with the Malawian government, starting back in 2003 with Majete, and our future growth including the possible management of Mangochi Forest Reserve which is contiguous to Liwonde. He shared his overall support for what we are achieving on the ground.
CNN joined us to cover this historic event during the first week of the translocation. The story continues to circulate on their network, and their online video clip and Virtual Reality film have both had over 500,000 views. July has seen the translocation shift to Majete where the entire event is set to conclude in the first days of August.
While the translocation has taken centre stage, there have been other significant events in the month as well. Lawrence Munro, field operations manager in Liwonde National Park was gored by a black rhino while out on a monitoring exercise and had to be evacuated to South Africa for treatment. His actions were selfless and almost certainly saved other individuals from being trampled, as well as ensuring that the rhino was not harmed. He has subsequently recovered well and has resumed duties in Liwonde. In Chinko, the escalation of the civil war in Eastern CAR cascaded over into the park with non-core staff having to be evacuated as a result of the unrest, and the contracts of several CAR employees being terminated for their participation in the unrest. On a positive note, an important game translocation into the Bangweulu Wetlands also commenced and we received our first official report from the newly signed Pendjari National Parks in Benin where management activities are now well underway.