Malawi to relocate 500 elephants in man-made migration

Clara Lindh, for CNN

Updated 0648 GMT (1448 HKT) July 20, 2016
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The elephants were first immobilized by darts, fired from a helicopter, before they were moved by truck and crane on a road trip of about 185 miles. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
The $1.6 million Malawi conservation project is meant to help restore the threatened African elephant population. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
The maiden voyage from Liwonde and Majete to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi, was completed by half a dozen elephants -- the first among a total of 500 planned to be moved. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
African Parks is relocating "surplus" elephants from two parks to a third one, where the elephant population has been wiped out by poachers. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
Poachers slaughter the threatened species to meet demands for ivory. Estimates say Africa currently has fewer than 500,000 elephants, down from several million only a century ago. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
After the animals were put to sleep using darts they were hung upside down with ankle straps and loaded onto large trucks. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
Conservationists covered the elephants' eyes with their ears and used twigs to enlarge the tips of their trunks for improved breathing, to make the animals more comfortable during the long journey. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
According to Kester Vickery, leader of Conservation Solutions, successful relocation of elephants depends on keeping elephant families together. Vickery says that the first thing an elephant mother does after recovering from immobilization is to look for her baby. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
The more Africa develops, the more wildlife areas are squeezed. According to African Parks experts, man-made animal migration will become an increasingly important conservation strategy. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
The relocation is being carried out by African Parks, a Johannesburg-based not-for-profit group. Key funders include the the Dutch PostCode Lottery and the Washington-based Wyss Foundation. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP