Today Majete has been restored to a Big Five reserve © Morgan Trimble
Today Majete has been restored to a Big Five reserve

Over just 15 years, Majete has transformed from a once-empty forest with no employment or tourism and only a few remaining antelope within its perimeter, to a productive and flourishing haven for Africa's most iconic wildlife, generating revenue and benefits for local communities. Decades of lawlessness and poaching had seen the reserve’s wildlife completely eradicated by the 1990s. This all changed in 2003, when African Parks assumed management of Majete, the first park to enter our portfolio. We immediately began to revive the park through a series of species reintroductions. Today, Majete is flourishing, so much so that wildlife is being moved to populate other parks and private reserves within the country.

Communities have benefitted from park infrastructure. © Moragan Trimble
Communities have benefitted from park infrastructure.

Black rhinos were brought back in 2003; elephants followed in 2006; lions in 2012, as well as a host of other wildlife making this budding reserve Malawi’s only Big Five destination with now more than 12,200 animals thriving within its perimeter.

We've maintained a 15-year track record of zero poaching of rhinos and elephants since their introduction; and tourism has increased 14 percent from last year, with over 9,000 visitors, half of whom were Malawian nationals bringing in over US$550,000 to the reserve and communities.

Majete is a tale of a park rising from the ashes – living proof of how a park deemed to be a wasteland can be revived and restored and serve as a life-source for wildlife and humans alike.

Majete Highlights

  • More than 2,500 animals have been reintroduced including black rhino, elephant, lion, leopard, sable antelope, impala and buffalo. The restocking of the park has led to Majete becoming a 'Big Five' reserve, and Malawi's premier wildlife destination.
  • By 2017, the elephant population had grown to over 430 individuals since 2006 resulting in the ability to translocate 200 individuals from Majete to Nkhotakota to help repopulate that reserve as part of our historic ‘500 Elephants’ translocation.
  • Effective law enforcement and close community engagement have resulted in a significant decline in the number of poaching incidents in the reserve year after year, with not one rhino or elephant poached since 2003.
  • Employment has risen more than ten-fold at Majete since African Parks assumed management in 2003.
  • The local economy has been transformed by creating economic opportunities and provisioning of services through the construction of infrastructure, including schools, clinics and safe roads.
  • Tourism has been on the rise, with over 9,000 tourists visiting the park in 2017, a 14% increase from 2016, generating more than US$550,000 in revenue in 2017.
  • In 2014 a state-of-the-art malaria research and prevention centre was constructed in Majete with the goal of reducing malaria by 80% in surrounding communities by 2018.
  • A scholarship programme has been set up to provide school fees for local children who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to attend school.
  • In 2018, four new lions, two males and two females, were translocated to the reserve from South Africa in order to increase the population’s genetic diversity


Malawi 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 the DNPW in Majete Wildlife Reserve in 2003 and in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park in 2015.