Situated in Malawi, the ‘warm heart of Africa,’ Liwonde National Park has been the home of incredible wildlife translocations and reintroductions, and transformations.  When African Parks assumed management of Liwonde, in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in 2015, the park was riddled with tens of thousands of wire snares – more snares existed than large animals – and it had some of the highest human-wildlife conflict levels in the region. People were poaching wildlife in the park, and tragically were also being killed by elephants and crocodiles. It was lawless and fraught with challenges.

African Parks assumed management of the park and immediately began constructing an electric fence to keep wildlife inside the park and illegal activity out.  Just one year later, Liwonde was at the epicentre of one of the largest elephant translocations in history, where a total of 336 elephants were relocated to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi to help restore that reserve. This translocation not only helped reduce pressure on Liwonde’s natural habitats but also helped address the deadly human-wildlife conflict situation. Since 2015, over 36,000 snares have been removed, and poaching has been significantly reduced and is now under control.

After restoring security to the park, we began to re-establish Liwonde’s predator population. Cheetahs were reintroduced in 2017,  bringing the species back to the park after 100 years. A founder population of 10 lions was also reintroduced from Majete Wildlife Reserve and South Africa in 2018. Wildlife populations are on the rise, and so are the number of people who are coming to the park to witness at the revival. The number of tourists has increased by 25 percent and revenue has increased by 70 percent since 2016. In just two short years, Liwonde has been given a second chance and it is being restored and transformed for the benefit of the wildlife, and for the people who live here.

Highlights

 

  • The construction and constant maintenance of a new 117 km of electrical perimeter fence has decreased the incidence in human-wildlife conflict, resulting in zero human fatalities since July 2016.
  • Poaching has been brought under control and more than 36,000 wire snares have been removed.
  • A ranger training center has been constructed providing a critically needed training ground for rangers in Malawi and on the continent.
  • 336 elephants were translocated to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve to repopulate  the park, and to reduce habitat degradation and human-elephant conflict in Liwonde.
  • 900,000 people live around Liwonde and depend on natural resources for survival. These communities directly benefit from community development and increased job opportunities that the park provides.
  • In 2017 seven cheetah, the first to return to Malawi in 20 years, were reintroduced to Liwonde and the population has already doubled with the birth of eight  cubs.
  • In 2018, 10 lion were reintroduced to Liwonde from Majete Wildlife Reserve and South Africa after they were last seen in the park 10 years ago.  
  • Prince Harry joined African Parks’ for the historical elephant translocation as part of the 500 Elephants initiative.

Partners

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.

Partners