Like Majete, Malawi’s small southern park lost much of its wildlife to poaching, hunting, and habitat loss. Before African Parks reintroduced cheetahs to Liwonde last year, large predators hadn’t been seen in the area for years. The last lion sighting was four years ago, but it’s been decades since Liwonde housed a breeding population of Africa’s biggest cat.
It’s gratifying to witness conservation in action, and I know this elephant will benefit from today’s work, but I feel sad, too. My species may be helping endangered animals, but we humans are the reason they’re at risk in the first place. And for what? Mantelpiece ornaments?
“When it comes to using new techniques on endangered species, we don’t have the luxury of trial and error,” Hildebrandt says. “Precision is essential.”