JOHANNESBURG – Beware of the wildlife.
Elephants and crocodiles have killed seven people in separate incidents over a seven-week period in an around a wildlife park in Malawi, the park’s managers said.
African Parks, a Johannesburg-based group, on Monday attributed the deaths in Liwonde National Park primarily to the fact that the reserve is unfenced and also because poachers are illegally entering the park. The park’s 80-mile perimeter will be fenced, which will take 18 months, according to the non-profit group.
The dead include four people killed outside the park by crocodiles and crop-raiding elephants, as well as three poachers killed inside the park – one by an elephant and the other two by crocodiles, according to African Parks, which took over management of Liwonde on Aug. 1.
Another poacher lost his arm in a crocodile attack.
In a statement, Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks, said the level of conflict between people and wildlife at Liwonde was “almost unprecedented” and was one of the reasons that Malawi’s government invited the group to take over management of the park. The group runs 10 wildlife areas in Africa.
Park managers have used an aircraft to chase elephants back into Liwonde from surrounding farmlands, and daily boat patrols are trying to discourage fishermen from entering the park.
Since the beginning of August, poachers have killed two elephants in the park and a rhino calf was rescued from a wire snare, they said.