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

But in just five years, Liwonde has built one of the best 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 in order to reduce pressure on Liwonde’s natural habitats and help address the deadly human-wildlife conflict situation surrounding the park.

In 2017, we began to re-establish 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. And more recently, 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. Liwonde’s wildlife populations are on the rise, and so are the number of people who are coming to the park to witness its revival, with over 23,000 tourists visiting the park in 2019 alone. In just a few 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.

Liwonde Highlights

  • Our footprint grew by 60% in 2018 by adding the contiguous Mangochi Forest Reserve to our mandate.
  • Poaching has been brought under control and more than 40,000 wire snares have been removed.
  • A ranger training centre has been constructed providing a critically needed training ground for rangers in Malawi and on the continent. So far, the Centre has trained 150 rangers who have been deployed across Malawi, plus another 100 that have returned for specialist training.
  • 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. And ten 10 lions were reintroduced in 2018 after they were last seen in the park 10 years ago.  
  • In 2019, Liwonde hosted yet another historical translocation as 17 black rhinos were relocated from South Africa to the park to boost the population numbers and genetics.

Partners

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.

Partners