Nestled beneath the Chipata Mountain, a vast network of rivers weave their way through wooded hills, nourishing the dense miombo forests that make up Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. The 1,800 km² landscape stretches from the Great Rift Valley to within a few kilometres of Lake Malawi shore. With more than 280 bird species, Nkhotakota is one of Malawi’s most important bird areas, and is home to newly translocated elephant, sable, kudu, buffalo, waterbuck, impala, and warthog.

Sadly, with its surrounding communities being among the poorest in Malawi, Nkhotakota has felt the devastation of poverty. Decades of poaching and timber harvesting depleted many key mammal species and degraded their natural habitat. Nkhotakota once had more than 1,500 elephants, but due to poaching fewer than 100 remained when we assumed management of the reserve in August 2015.

In July and August 2016 and 2017, 520 elephants along with more than 1,400 game animals were moved from Liwonde and Majete as part of a historic translocation initiative to restore Nkhotakota and poise it to become one of Malawi’s most important sanctuaries for wildlife.

In addition, African Parks has begun working with local communities to address areas of need and promote sustainable livelihoods. This includes the construction of a perimeter fence, stringent law enforcement and resources for scouts to ensure the protection of Nkhotakota’s wildlife and the communities surrounding the reserve.


  • A 19,000 ha sanctuary area in the core of the reserve has been fenced to allow for the safe reintroduction of species.
  • 261 elephants and 1,117 game animals were moved from Liwonde to Nkhotakota in 2016 as part of 500 Elephants – the historical elephant translocation taking place in Malawi, and the second half of this initiative will take place in June – August 2017.
  • Vehicles, roads and radios have all been upgraded to improve park management.
  • Law Enforcement and Community teams have collected hundreds of wire traps, filled in pit traps and confiscated illegal firearms.
  • Given the need to secure the area and prevent human-wildlife conflict, fencing was a top priority when we assumed management of the reserve.
  • Communities who live around the reserve have worked with our rangers to help collect snares and bury pitfall traps to protect wildlife.
  • “At risk” students have been provided scholarships from the park to continue their education


Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife is the statutory organisation in charge of national parks, wildlife reserves and sanctuaries as well as wildlife management on communal lands in Malawi. We began our work with the DNPW in Majete Wildlife Reserve in 2003 and in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park in 2015.

View Partners