Photo Credit: Wildlife Action Group

Preserving African elephants during the COVID-19 pandemic



Just one month after Malawi's first COVID-19 diagnosis, there has already been an unprecedented increase in illegal activities inside the Thuma and Dedza Salima Escarpment Forest Reserves. This is in direct response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected the lives of the local community.

The locals near the reserves are increasingly turning to the forest for their daily needs and the main concern is the protection of the breeding herds of elephants that reside there. Staff has agreed to stay in the forest to protect the elephants in response to the threats caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Records show that poaching activities have started three months earlier than normal. Urgent support is needed in order to avoid severe financial strain and to be able to continue monitoring activities.


  • Safeguard law enforcement patrols with well-equipped rangers;
  • Introduce alternative income-generating activities while building awareness on COVID-19 and national wildlife laws.


  • Purchase and supply monthly rations and new uniforms to each ranger;
  • Purchase fuel required for anti-poaching operations;
  • Conduct awareness meetings and distribute related material such as posters and booklets;
  • Set up and train different village community clubs on specific skill sets to reduce reliance on the forest.

This project is a part of the IUCN SOS African Wildlife initiative, which is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG Devco) through its B4Life initiative.

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