Unsustainable community dependence on the park’s resources has led to illegal harvesting, and has diminished fish and mammal populations. Trees have been illegally felled for firewood and charcoal, precipitating habitat loss and ecosystem degradation. The absence of an effective well maintained perimeter fence up until recently has contributed to high levels of human-wildlife conflict, causing devastating consequences for humans and wildlife.
Rangers efforts in the Park
Liwonde’s 43 rangers made significant gains over the first full year of managing the park. An astounding 16,494 snares were removed with signs that the setting of snares had decreased over the year. Thirty-seven gin traps were removed and 13 firearms confiscated. Two hundred and thirty-five boats used for illegal fishing were seized and fish poaching was largely eliminated within the park, with a 95 percent reduction in activity since the beginning of the year. While sadly 20 elephants and one rhino were poached between January and June, not one elephant or rhino was killed for the remainder of the year. This was a direct result of the intensive efforts of putting into place sustainable law enforcement interventions. Ten criminals directly involved in these poaching crimes were arrested and successfully prosecuted with very strong sentences.
Rangers arrested poachers, illegal fishermen and fence vandals, sending a strong message that illegal activities will not be tolerated. Aerial surveillance provides much-needed coverage of the park and is instrumental in helping locate and prevent further poaching.
In the first year a total of 60 ranger candidates underwent seven weeks of intensive training on two courses at Liwonde’s Training Centre at the request of Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to help train and deploy rangers across Malawi’s parks. The top performing individuals were selected to fill vacancies at Liwonde and Nkhotakota. Liwonde also provided a three-week Basic Tracker training course for 25 rangers from African Parks in Zambia, Malawi and Rwanda. This field-based training added to the park’s law enforcement capabilities.
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