“The animals went in two by two”. Most of our readers probably know the nursery rhythm and were they in Zimbabwe this week would probably be singing it. Why? Because this week sees one of Africa’s largest wildlife relocation projects take place.
Over 7,500 animals will be moved from from Zimbabwe to neighbouring Mozambique to restock a national park that was emptied of wildlife during the civil war. They’ll be joined there by a further 1,500 animals sourced from Mozambique.
The ‘rewilding caravan’ would be a truly joyous sight, as nearly 50 elephants will be among the first passengers making this 600km road journey, together with 200 zebra, 100 giraffe, 900 impala, 200 buffalo, 200 eland antelope, 300 wildebeest and 50 kudus. (So not exactly two by two anymore!).
The animals will be accompanied by a small army of game-capture staff, veterinarians, ecologists, helicopter pilots and lorry drivers.
The animals – and the tourists who’ll soon be able to see them in their new home in the Zinave National Park – owe their good fortune to a German businessman and philanthropist called Wilfried Pabsterman, who owns the Sango section of the Savé Valley Conservancy, from where the animals currently, err, reside.
He has agreed to donate 6,000 animals over the next three years as his conservancy ‘enjoyed a surplus of wild animals’ and, according to the Peace Parks Foundation, which sponsored the operation, the businessman has donated the animals for free.
Given the terrible consequences that largescale poaching is having on Africa’s wildlife, Herr Pabsterman’s generosity deserves widespread recognition. Perhaps acknowledged animal conservationist Prince Harry could have a word in his grandmother’s ear about a knighthood?
Once rehoused, the animals will play their part in a much larger, trans-frontier project designed to restore animal migration routes across Africa, as well as benefit local communities through wildlife tourism projects.