With the average adult male African elephant weighing around 7 tonnes, translocating the world’s largest land mammal is no small undertaking! This week, Peace Parks TV will be following an operation that will see 23 elephants moved from Maputo National Park’s buffer zone, where they face significant risk due to human-wildlife conflict, to the safety of Zinave National Park.
When moving elephants, or any animal for that matter, across vast distances, collaboration is the key to success. Thankfully, Peace Parks Foundation is joining forces with some of the world’s best in their fields, from the expert veterinarians at Mozambique Wildlife Alliance to the team from Conservation Solutions, who focus on large-scale wildlife capture and translocation projects.
But how do you translocate elephant? Luckily, this team has moved thousands of elephants all over the world, and Conservation Solutions’ Kester Vickery takes us through the capture process. He explains that once the elephants have been located, the vets will then dart the large land mammals from the air using a pneumatic dart gun. Once the darts are in, the helicopter will guide the elephants towards a safe and open place where the team can move in and work when they go down. Easy access is key here as the transport vehicles are large trucks and cranes that are not so easily manoeuvred.
Once the elephants are asleep, the team continuously monitor their breathing before loading them into the trucks. Although it might look a little strange, lifting these gentle giants by their feet and placing them into specially designed wake-up modules is the safest way of loading them.
Once they are securely inside the modules, the elephants are woken up. Because these are incredibly social animals, a crucial step in the loading process is to ensure that family groups travel together. As they are awake throughout the long journey, this helps to alleviate stress.
Peace Parks Foundation, in partnership with Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas, is helping to develop and restore Zinave National Park through the establishment of a wildlife economy and is incredibly proud to be working with such a dedicated and passionate team of professionals who are all playing a massive part in the process.
Don’t forget to watch the previous video here, where we share the first step in this translocation journey. Keep following along on Peace Parks TV this week as we continue to share the story of the largest land mammal translocation that will enable these magnificent mammals to thrive in their new home!