African Parks officials on Wednesday told the media in Blantyre that the first founder population of two female and three male cheetahs have been released in the Liwonde National Park after so many years of extinction.
Translocation of the cheetahs has cost close to $60,000 which has come from African Parks’ budget. Robin Pope Safaris and Ulendo Travel provided transport to airlift the cheetahs to Malawi from South Africa. They arrived on May 17, and were released into specially built holding pens to allow them to settle down and adjust to the new environment before they are released to the wider park.
African Parks Network Country Director, Patricio Ndadzela, said in Blantyre that Liwonde National Park should be given a chance in the wildlife restocking exercise because of the habitat and abundant prey species prevalent in it.
He added that, ecologically, cheetahs are predators that rely on prey species for their survival. According to Ndadzela, the terrain in Liwonde National Park provides the ecology that is easy to pursue prey species unlike the hilly and mountainous area in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve for instance.
“African Parks is thankful for the good support it continues to receive from government in translocation exercises of this initiative. This is giving us the impetus to do more in the sector of wildlife conservation as part of biodiversity restoration,” Ndadzela said
Cheetah reintroduction in Liwonde comes fast on the heels of the historic “500 elephants on the move”, an initiative which will see 250 elephants being moved from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve this year. This will add on the number moved last year in the three protected areas jointly managed through a concession signed by Department of National Parks and African Parks.