New managers, at the African Parks, say they will fence Liwonde National Park in Malawi, following the deaths of three poachers and four other persons through encounters with crocodiles and elephants.
African Parks, a Johannesburg-based wildlife NGO, said three poachers were among those killed in and around Liwonde National Park, one of the country’s most celebrated tourist attractions in its southern section.
One was killed by an elephant and the other two by crocodiles, while another poacher lost his arm to one of the reptiles, it said.
Recently, flooding caused widespread crop damage in the impoverished southern African country and prompted its president Peter Mutharika to appeal last week to the international community for food aid during the UN General Assembly in New York.
As a result, competition for food between Malawians and wildlife is fierce, and have caused many deaths in recent years.
Peter Fearnhead, the Chief Executive of the African Parks, which was asked to take over the running of the park last month, said the level of human-wildlife conflict in Liwonde was “almost unprecedented”.
“There are two primary causes of the current conflict: the absence of any perimeter fence to contain elephants and prevent them from raiding adjacent farms, and the illegal entry by numerous individuals on a daily basis wanting to harvest the parks resources,” he said.
“Solving this conflict is extremely urgent for both the communities living around Liwonde and the wildlife within the park.”
African Parks has embarked on an ambitious plan to fence the entire 80-mile perimetre of the park which they estimate will take 18 months to complete.
The group has also launched elephant patrols to push the pachyderms back into the protected area and prevent raids on crops.
Anti-poaching patrols and community education projects also aim to protect the wildlife, following the deaths of two elephants in the park.
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SOURCE: The Telegraph, UK