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RSC: Translocating Malawi's Elephants
Posted on: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Blog Category: 'Wildlife & Reserves'

Osborne Phiri has been a guide with RSC for the last 3 years. He’s travelled throughout the whole country but this year he had the chance to experience a really unique trip, assisting the media team on the biggest elephant relocation project in the world. Here he tells us more about his experiences on this incredible project which ended up featuring a very famous royal guest…

I worked with African Parks, on the moving of the wild animals from Liwonde National Parks to Nkhotakota Game Reserve. African Parks worked in conjunction with Malawi government from July to August 2016 to translocate different species of wild animals from Liwonde and Majete, to Nkhotakota Game reserve. This is from the South to the North of Malawi.

The Responsible Safari Company, was looking after the logistics for all the International media groups covering the whole translocation exercise. Each week a different media crew would fly into Blantyre to record this internationally publicised event. I was assigned by RSC as the guide to look after these teams and follow the progress throughout the enormous challenge of moving 250 elephants in about 6 weeks. It was a life time experience for me to be part of the team. My job was to drive and guide the media team through the parks, to follow the elephants’ journeys, from the point of capture to the release from different parts of the Malawi during this exercise.

Every day, the helicopter would search for elephants and drive them into an open space within the park which was easily accessible for the ground team. Highly experienced conservationists would then dart the elephants with tranquilizer and the ground team would then rush in 4x4s to make sure that the elephants fell safely to the ground. I had many opportunities to be very close to these enormous animals, being able to touch them, feel them as they breathe. I joined and helped the capture team by putting ropes on the elephants’ feet after they were tranquillized, ready to be taken to their new home. At this point, the elephants were then loaded into enormous trucks and driven up to Nkotakota National Park and released into a sanctuary.

It was awesome to see how the capture team was coordinating with each other during and before catching the elephants. As we were working with such powerful wild animals, it could have been a very dangerous job if the guys were not working as a team. Amazingly the whole exercise finished without any incident, because the team worked together as one with passion, good coordination, and everybody knew and did their jobs very well with great care. Prince Harry surprised us all by also coming to work on this project for a while and he also became a very integrated member of the team!

Thank you management and staff of Conservation Resolutions, for briefing, teaching and allowing me in joining your team in the field during capturing of the elephants. I have learnt a lot of things. My big thank you to the management of RSC, for choosing me to do this exciting and educating job. Thank you to African Parks for contracting RSC on one of Malawi’s biggest wildlife project. During this project I have met and made friends with different and important people from different parts of the world.

Thank you very much

Ozzie

Original Blog by RSC



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