The main focus of Peace Parks Foundation is on large landscape restoration, transfrontier conservation areas that can be thousands of square kilometres in size. The health of any landscape is inextricably linked with its wildlife and, sadly, many of these areas no longer have many of their native species living there or the numbers are heavily depleted. This may be due to imbalanced ecosystems, overuse of natural resources or past conflict in the region. In order to address this situation, and to rebalance the ecosystem and rejuvenate the land, Peace Parks and partners are inevitably involved with repopulating these areas with wildlife.
As well as being integral to physically restoring the landscape, bringing wildlife back helps with the long-term sustainability of the area. Wildlife is a huge draw for tourists. Seeing charismatic animals like elephant, cheetah and other large mammals is often cited as the main reason tourists fall in love with Africa. Of course, every animal is important to a healthy ecosystem, but particular animals, some seen nowhere else in the world, are key to sustainable tourism and careful economic development which will help the future of both people and wildlife in the region.
Translocations are not simple operations. Each step of a translocation takes much discussion, the collaboration of many others and, of course, funding, as each species introduced need to be handled differently. In fact, the translocation itself is often the shortest step, sometimes taking only a few days of high-intensity action.
Planning which animals to move and where to find them is the start of the process and this can take months if not years. Moving cheetah back to Maputo Special Reserve took years in the planning. After the sourcing of the animals, preparation involves working out how to track, capture, move and release the animals safely, with minimum risk to both the wildlife and humans involved. Of course, there is lot of paperwork too, which will ensure that everything is legitimate. Post-release monitoring is also critical, to ensure lessons are learned from each translocation.
Of course, wildlife can return to areas on their own. This year lion were spotted in Zinave National Park for the first time in decades, drawn no doubt by the increasingly large numbers of prey animals. Although a much celebrated event, the natural return is too slow a process. On a global scale, to mitigate and even reverse some of the impacts of the climate crisis, change needs to happen faster, and translocation will boost this process.
Keep watching PeaceParks.TV in 2022 to see even more incredible translocations.
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 pilots, the ground teams, 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.