2021 was a remarkable translocation season that saw cheetah, elephant, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and leopard moved.
Dozens of elephants in family groups were translocated from the Maputo River landscape, just outside Maputo Special Reserve to Zinave National Park in Mozambique. It was a massive operation to move the largest land mammals on earth and the Peace Parks team was there in the middle of the action. One of the highlights was watching how these huge creatures are lifted like babies into the air by cranes that gently lay the sleeping elephants into the trucks that will transport them onwards. Another was the way the crew talk and coax the animals. That tenderness between human and animals is always something special to see, especially when set against such a rugged wilderness.
For Lésa, Communications Coordinator for Peace Parks Foundation, a highlight from 2021 is the moment the cheetah were released from their cages into the reserve in Maputo Special Reserve. Seeing the speed of the animals at close quarters as they bolted out into the wild, before settling calmly in the bush, might seem a disappointing climax after so many months of work. However, the very fact that these cheetah have arrived in a part of Africa that has had no native cheetah for over 50 years, is a monumental tribute to the conservation efforts of Peace Parks and all their partners.
For João, the highlight is what all these translocations mean for Mozambique. As a young country in terms of conservation, it is a huge accolade to all involved that so many translocations were done internally in Mozambique. It showcases the growing expertise within the country itself. The fact that Mozambique has managed to relocate the elephants within the country and landscape, is a huge reward. After all, as João notes, the animals often just happen to be in the wrong place. It is down to human endeavour to find safe havens for them to live.
Peace Parks would like to make a special thanks to all those who have been involved in translocations this year. This includes the wildlife veterinarians, the ground teams, the pilots, everyone at HQ, the institutions, governments, officials, partners, corporations and of course, the generous donors, without whom none of what you have seen would be possible.