Situated in Malawi, the ‘warm heart of Africa,’ Liwonde National Park has been host to some significant wildlife translocations and reintroductions. 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. Liwonde was a park in decline, teetering on the edge of total collapse, almost to the extent of not being able to be revived at all.

But since then, Liwonde has established one of the most effective ranger forces and training grounds in southern Africa; integrated the most advanced technology to protect and monitor wildlife and management activities; removed more than 40,000 wire snares; and orchestrated historic animal reintroductions. In 2016 the park was at the epicentre of one of the largest elephant translocations in history. A total of 336 elephants were relocated from Liwonde to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi to reduce pressure on Liwonde’s natural habitats and help address human-wildlife conflict situations around the park.

In 2017, we began re-establishing Liwonde’s predator population and reintroduced cheetahs, bringing the species back to the park after 100 years. In 2018, a founder population of 10 lions was also reintroduced from South Africa and Majete Wildlife Reserve. In 2019, the park hosted one of the largest international black rhino translocations in history, where 17 black rhino were relocated from South Africa to the park to boost population numbers and genetics, and in 2021 eight African wild dogs were introduced. Liwonde’s wildlife populations are on the rise, and so are the number of people who visit the park to witness its revival. In just a few short years, Liwonde has been given a second chance, being restored and transformed for the benefit of the wildlife, and for the people who live here.

Liwonde Highlights

  • In 2018, our footprint grew by 60% by adding the contiguous Mangochi Forest Reserve to our mandate.
  • Poaching has been brought under control with zero reports of rhino or elephant poaching for four consecutive years.
  • A ranger training centre has been constructed providing a critically needed training ground for rangers in Malawi and on the continent. In addition, state-of-the-art kennels have been built to house highly-trained tracker dogs as part of the K-9 unit.
  • Thousands of people live around Liwonde and depend on natural resources for survival. These communities directly benefit from the park’s community development programme and increased job opportunities that the park and its tourism provide.
  • Liwonde’s predators are on the rise, seven cheetahs were reintroduced to the park in 2017 after a 100-year absence and the population has already more than doubled. Ten lions were reintroduced in 2018 after they were last seen in the park 10 years ago and eight African wild dogs were introduced in 2021.
  • Over 70 tonnes of chillies are harvested annually through the Spicy Farmers project which has also resulted in a major drop in human elephant conflict thanks to the ‘chilli elephant barrier’ created by the project.


Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) 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 DNPW in Majete Wildlife Reserve in 2003 and in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park in 2015.