Majete Wildlife Reserve was the first park to fall under our management and was signed with the Government in 2003. It took three years to secure this agreement for an unknown and failing reserve in the south western part of Malawi. Prior to 2003, all of Majete’s wildlife had been hunted out – elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo, even warthog – only a few antelope remained. Trees were being felled for charcoal; only 12 scouts were employed, and not one tourist had visited the park in three years. It was a wasteland, with no perceived value, and little to no hope for a revival. But it was the perfect place to put our model of delegated management to the test. We immediately began securing the area and working with communities. In our first year we reintroduced rhinos; elephants in 2006; lions in 2012 and a host of animals in between, including giraffe in 2018 and cheetah in 2019. In 2017 we were able to take surplus elephants and other animals and move them to help repopulate Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Majete has come a long way in the last 17 years – from being a sink to a source; to providing hundreds of jobs and supporting thousands of community members who have reaped education, health and other social benefits. Majete has benefitted too. Not one rhino or elephant has been poached from the reserve since they were reintroduced; and this once hopeless reserve has put Malawi on the map as a coveted wildlife destination. Today, Majete serves not only as our point of origin, but as one of our north stars, guiding a path along the road of possibility.

Majete Highlights

  • Nearly 5,000 animals of 16 species have been reintroduced including black rhino, elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, sable antelope, 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 and 2006 respectively.
  • 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 11,000 tourists visiting the park in 2019 generating more than US$510,000 in revenue.
  • 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 2019, 107 secondary school and university students were provided with scholarships.
  • In recent years, major translocations to Majete included; four lions in 2018 to bolster population numbers and genetics, a founder population of 13 giraffes in 2018, and five cheetahs in 2019 which were reintroduced after decades of their absence.

Partners

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.

Partners