Boost For Malawi’s Wildlife: African Parks Takes Over Liwonde National Park And Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
The on-going emergence of Malawi’s wildlife has just received another great boost with African Parks taking over the management of two more of the country’s reserves.
African Parks has concluded an agreement with the Government of Malawi to manage and operate Liwonde National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve for 20 years. The agreement follows an application and evaluation process administered by the Public Private Partnership Commission in which African Parks emerged as the preferred partner to manage the two protected areas.
In one of the great conservation success stories, African Parks have transformed Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve from a neglected, rarely visited reserve of few animals to a thrilling Big 5 destination. With the two latest reserves already in a more advanced state than Majete was, it won’t be long before the wildlife is thriving and Malawi has 3 reserves offering some of the the highest quality safari experiences in the region!
Liwonde National Park, located in the southern Malawi is 548m2 in size and consists of woodland, floodplains, grasslands, and lagoon. It supports the largest remaining population of elephants in the country as well as one of two populations of black rhino. Other mammal species include: hippo, hyena, buffalo, warthog, several antelope species and more than 400 bird species. Lions were once commonplace and the healthy populations of other large mammals will allow for the quick reintroduction of predators.
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, located in the central region of Malawi is 1,800 km2 in size, lying within the miombo woodland zone. It is a major catchment area for Lake Malawi. Although a depleted park, it still has remnant populations of elephant, warthog, baboon, and various antelope species as well as 280 bird species. Well managed, it has the potential to become an important area for elephant conservation in Malawi. Black rhino, lion, cheetah and wild dog once existed but are now all locally extinct. Tongole Wilderness Lodge offers guests a luxury wilderness experience, Bua River Lodge offers moderately priced accommodation. There is also a campsite on Chipata Mountain used by self-drive visitors.
“We are excited about the mandate granted to us by the Ministry Of Information, Tourism and Culture and are encouraged about the potential of both projects,” said Peter Fearnhead, African Parks CEO. “Our aim is to completely restore the biodiversity in both Liwonde and Nkhotakota, enhance the tourism product and experience, reduce the extensive human-wildlife conflict, ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and contribute to the socio economic development of local communities living around the two areas. This will be achieved through an $18m investment in the two parks over a five year period, made possible by a few key partners of African Parks”.
The African Parks public-private partnerships with the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife for Liwonde and Nkhotakota brings to three the total number between the organisation and the Malawian wildlife authority. Since 2003 African Parks has, through its public private partnership with DNPW, managed Majete Wildlife Reserve, a partnership that has seen the reserve restored and restocked with an initial 2,500 animals including the Big Five. At the same time, park and social infrastructure has been developed, law enforcement and scientific functions overhauled, tourism and hospitality offerings set up and employment opportunities created for local communities in park operations, tourism and through community enterprise projects. Today, Majete is one of Malawi’s premier wildlife sanctuaries, conserving and protecting more than 7,500 animals. Tourism offerings include the luxuryMkulamadzi Lodge run by Robin Pope Safaris; Thawale Lodge, a mid-range offering that also has a self-catering option and is managed and operated by African Parks; and the Majete campsite, owned and managed by communities surrounding the reserve who derive all the profits from it. Day visitors are catered for at the Heritage Centre that houses an information section, a gift shop and refreshment facilities.
African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks and protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities. With the addition of Liwonde and Nkhotakota tour portfolio, they now manage 10 national parks and protected areas in seven countries: Malawi, Zambia, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad and Rwanda. The inclusion of the two protected areas also increases the land under their protection in Africa from 5.9 million hectares to 6.15 million hectares.