Town & Country magazine has a February cover story about conservation in Malawi. Well, it presents the cover story as all about Prince Harry, but the interview and article also explain quite a bit about African Parks and the work they do. Prince Harry worked with the organization in Malawi over the summer, helping relocate animals, and speaks candidly about his experience and why he has taken a great interest in conservation.
It is an intense and expensive two year project to relocate over 2000 animals, including 500 elephants, from Liwonde National Park and the Majete Wildlife Reserve a distance of three hundred miles to Nkhotakota Park. But, relocation so far seems to be a success story.
The article explains the mission of African Parks:
“African governments, faced with rapidly growing populations in need of schools, hospitals, water, roads, etc., increasingly lack the motivation and money to protect their parks, which makes them vulnerable to land invaders and poaching of all kinds—for animal trophy parts, bush meat, and timber. African Parks, which has access to foreign funding, offers to manage the countries’ neglected parks for them.”
One of the dilemmas with this approach is briefly mentioned in the article, as the author’s local driver watches the helicopters darting elephants so they can be moved. He sees it as white boys with their toys – in other words, foreigners swooping in to “save the day”, as many civilians continue to live in desperate poverty just miles away. How much can anyone truly support wildlife if the root causes of environmental destruction are not addressed, such as poverty and the West’s continued high demand and consumption of natural resources?
Fortunately, African Parks seems to be a well managed organization, and knows that locals need to be involved for the parks to thrive. The article says re: the Majete Wildlife Reserve “in 2016 it earned $400,000 from tourism (up from zero), it employs 140 people (up from 12), and it has a wildlife population of 12,200 (up from next to nothing).” This is good news, and the organization hopes to expand its reach within the next few years – the goal being to manage 20 parks by 2020.
Photo: cover of Feb 2017 issue Town & Country