Today Majete has been restored to a Big Five reserve © Morgan Trimble
Today Majete has been restored to a Big Five reserve

Majete Wildlife Reserve is nestled in the south-western part of Malawi with an unlikely story of resurgence and restoration. Just 13 years ago, this reserve was practically an empty forest devoid of most wildlife apart from a few remaining antelope. Rhinos had been poached out of Majete in the 1970’s; a population of 300 elephants had also been poached out with the last individual killed in 1992; the predators and most of their prey species were gone; and even the trees were being illegally cut and charcoal production was well underway. The reserve, given its condition, had almost no tourists in the three years prior to 2003, and therefore hardly a single tourist dollar made it to Majete in that time. Only 12 scouts were employed to patrol the park, but by then there wasn’t much left to protect.

But Majete’s story didn’t end there.

In 2003, African Parks entered into a 25-year agreement with the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to manage Majete and to realize a shared vision of restoring the reserve and to having wildlife flourish once again.

Communities have benefitted from park infrastructure. © Moragan Trimble
Communities have benefitted from park infrastructure.

We immediately began by overhauling law enforcement to prepare for the needed reintroductions of key species. Black rhinos were brought back in 2003; elephants followed in 2006; lions in 2012, as well as a host of other wildlife making this budding reserve Malawi’s only Big Five destination with now more than 12,200 animals thriving within its perimeter.

Eighty-five surrounding villages and tens of thousands of local people are being positively impacted by this parks resurgence. Employment has risen more than ten-fold with now 140 people being employed on a full-time basis, including our growing ranger force who patrol the park daily and whose efforts have resulted in not one rhino or elephant being lost to poachers since 2003.

Majete’s trajectory tells a story of possibility, and serves as a beacon of hope for how a park can be revived, brought back from the brink, and thrive once again.


  • More than 2,500 animals have been reintroduced including black rhino, elephant, lion, leopard, sable antelope, impala and buffalo. The restocking of the park has led to Majete becoming a Big Five reserve, and Malawi's premier wildlife destination.
  • By 2017, the elephant population had grown to over 430 individuals since 2006 resulting in the ability to translocate 200 individuals from Majete to Nkhotakota to help repopulate that reserve as part of our historic ‘500 Elephants’ initiative.
  • Effective law enforcement and close community engagement have resulted in a significant decline in the number of poaching incidents in the reserve year after year, with not one rhino or elephant poached since 2003.
  • Employment has risen more than ten-fold at Majete since African Parks assumed management in 2003.
  • The local economy has been transformed by creating economic opportunities and provisioning of services through the construction of infrastructure, including schools, clinics and safe roads.
  • Tourism has been on the rise, with over 8,000 tourists visiting the park in 2016, a 10% increase from 2015, generating more than US$400,000 in revenue in 2016.
  • In 2014 a state-of-the-art malaria research and prevention centre was constructed in Majete with the goal of reducing malaria by 80% in surrounding communities by 2018.
  • A scholarship programme has been set up to provide school fees for local children who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to attend school.


On 28 March 2003, the Government of Malawi entered into a 25-year Public-Private Partnership with African Parks for the rehabilitation, development and management of Majete. Through this partnership, Majete Wildlife Reserve was born. This was the first project that African Parks assumed management of.