The Parks

Majete and Liwonde have been transformed through the management of African Parks in partnership with the DNPW and local communities since 2003 and 2015 respectively. Together, our efforts have resulted in the dramatic reduction of poaching and human-wildlife conflict, as well as historical translocations and reintroductions of key species. These have included rhinos to Majete in 2003, and over 3,000 other animals from 15 species, most recently among them lion and cheetah which have gone to both Majete and Liwonde. In 2015, when African Parks assumed management of Liwonde, the park contained thousands of wire snares and the highest rate of human-wildlife conflict in the region. Black rhino, which had been reintroduced to the park in 1993 (after rhinos disappeared from Malawi in 1991). But in just four short years in Liwonde, African Parks and DNPW have built one of the best ranger teams and training grounds in southern Africa; integrated the most advanced technology and infrastructure to protect and monitor wildlife and management activities; and removed over 37,000 wire snares. Not a single individual of a high-value species has been lost since African Parks assumed management of Majete in 2003, nor one in Liwonde since 2016. Majete and Liwonde have both become secure sanctuaries enabling the growth and long-term success of rhino populations and other endangered wildlife, for the benefit of local communities and the country of Malawi.

The Translocation

  1. Securing the park: each new Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) site must pass extensive security evaluations to ensure the animals are as safe as possible. Liwonde National Park has been managed by African Parks in partnership with the DNPW since 2015. In four years, we have overhauled law enforcement, integrated the most advanced technology and infrastructure to protect and monitor wildlife and worked extensively with communities. As a result, not a single rhino or elephant has been lost to poaching in two and a half years.

  2. Pre-translocation: Months of extensive planning are undertaken by all partners prior to the translocation to ensure for the wellbeing of the rhinos at every step of the process. The 18 rhinos were captured in KwaZulu-Natal and quarantined and carefully monitored in Imfolozi Game Reserve for five weeks prior to their translocation to Malawi.

  3. The Translocation: The rhinos were loaded into crated and trucked to King Shaka International Airport in Durban where they were loaded onto a Boeing 747. They were flown the 1,111 miles to Lilongwe in Malawi on November 11th and were transferred by six trucks to their new home in Liwonde National Park. The 18 rhinos were released directly from their crates into the park in the early morning of November 12th. Following this first phase, African Parks will subsequently move two existing Liwonde rhinos to Majete and one Majete bull rhino to Liwonde to further aid genetic variability. 

  4. Post Translocation: African Parks and the BRREP carry out extensive monitoring of the rhinos post-release, involving dedicated and well-trained monitors. The staff in Liwonde already have several years of experience in monitoring black rhinos and so highly trained and dedicated monitors have tracked the animals daily on foot with the assistance of SmartParks and Vulcan’s Earth Ranger technology.

Planning and Protection

Since assuming management of Majete Wildlife Reserve in 2003 and Liwonde National Park in 2015, African Parks in partnership with the DNPW, has overhauled law enforcement and effectively halted poaching in both parks. Both Majete and Liwonde have pre-existing black rhino populations and preparations were made to ensure their long-term safety and well-being, which includes the creation of expertly-trained rhino tracking and protection teams and the deployment of helicopters for critical aerial surveillance to enhance protection of the parks. In addition, both parks utilize technological innovations, including Vulcan’s EarthRanger and Smart Parks technology to monitor chipped/collared animals on a real-time basis. As a result of these efforts, not one rhino or elephant has been poached in Majete in the last 16 years and not one has been poached in Liwonde in the last two and a half years.