Thirteen giraffe have been released into Malawi's Majete Wildlife Reserve, African Parks and Giraffe Conservation Foundation announced on Monday, 19th November. Nine hail from South Africa and travelled 2,500 km by road in one of the longest translocations of this kind. They and four giraffe already living in Malawi represent a new population for Majete-and Malawi. The introduction boosts the reserve's biodiversity while helping tourism to enhance the already emerging conservation-led economy and to support community development.
While southern Africa has a robust giraffe population, few are present in Malawi; this translocation brings national giraffe numbers to just over 30. Broadly, giraffe populations have plummeted in recent decades, with habitat loss, civil unrest and illegal hunting reducing Africa's population to fewer than 100,000 animals. This introduction comes at a crucial time: on 14th November, the IUCN Red Listannounced that several giraffe subspecies are critically endangered. The translocation of South African giraffe to Majete aims to establish a viable population that will support giraffe conservation across the region.
It's also a new chapter in Majete's story. Since 2003, African Parks has managed Majete in partnership with Malawi's Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), their collaborative efforts a national success story. "For fifteen years, our partnership with DNPW has driven Majete's evolution from a depleted landscape to a vibrant ecosystem," says Craig Hay, Park Manager for Majete Wildlife Reserve. More than 2,900 animals have been introduced to Majete; lion, rhino, elephant, and giraffe are among the species that have returned to a reserve now containing more than 12,000 animals. Critical support from partners, including The Wyss Foundation, WWF-Belgium and the People's Postcode Lottery, helped improve infrastructure and law enforcement- effectively halting poaching in Majete.
"Introducing giraffe in Majete is an example of how collaborative partnerships can make a difference to save giraffe in the wild before it is too late," said Dr. Julian Fennessy, Director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. More than a year was spent carefully planning the translocation. In Majete, the founding of a new population forms part of the reserve's development as a flagship wildlife sanctuary, benefitting local communities and affording people in Malawi the opportunity to see the world's tallest land mammal. He continued, "Without giraffe, the African landscape is a poorer place."