Why You Need to Know About #500elephants

Have you heard about the #500elephants project yet? Due to poaching, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict, African elephants are being decimated across the continent. Elephants are a keystone species, which means they play a pivotal role in engineering the structure of plant and animal communities within their habitats. When elephant populations are too high, there can be an adverse effect on the surrounding environment so numbers need to be managed. Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve in Southern Malawi both have high populations of elephants and the habitats are near to full capacity. Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in the North of Malawi, however, is an ideal natural habitat for elephants but is sparsely populated with only 100 animals remaining in the reserve.

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What started in July this year is one of the largest and most significant elephant trans-locations in human history, undertaken by African Parks, a non-profit conservation organisation. 500 elephants are being transported approximately 350km from Liwonde and Majete to Nkhotakota. The logistics associated with a trans-location of this scale requires months of intensive planning and preparation. Elephants will be darted by helicopter, retrieved from the field by crane and recovery trucks and will then be kept in a holding facility for a few hours before being released into the larger sanctuary. With the collaboration of Prince Harry as part of his summer conservation work, the project has caught the interest of the world, with wide coverage in the media.

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This project is particularly exciting and special for us, as The Tongole Foundation provides charity aid to the local communities living in extreme poverty in Nkhotakota. Blue Forest have always been proud to support The Tongole Foundation, with Director Simon Payne sitting as a trustee for the charity.

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As part of our collaboration with the charity, we designed The Tongole Wilderness Lodge – the luxury safari eco-tourism accommodation that provides training opportunities and employment in the local area. Education and the creation of sustainable businesses is key to supporting the local communities, and by doing so, reduces the need for poaching and creates a safer environment for the elephants to thrive in.

Tongole Wilderness Lodge (22)
Tongole Wilderness Lodge (38)

If you are interested in finding out more, please visit www.500elephants.org or search using the hashtag #500elephants