Law Enforcement

Nkhotakota’s adjacent communities are among the poorest in Malawi, and their unsustainable use of the reserve’s natural resources to support their livelihoods, prior to African Parks’ management, progressively led to the extinction, or severe depletion, of many key mammal species in the reserve. However, improved law enforcement efforts and Ranger training have seen a significant decrease in poaching over the last five years. In 2019 alone our team of 43 Rangers achieved a 24% decrease in poaching incidents compared to 2018. 

Ranger Training

Nkhotakota Ranger Training © Thoko Chikondi
Rangers regularly receive refresher training in field tactics, bushcraft and weapons handling.

In 2015, when African Parks assumed management of the reserve, law enforcement was significantly bolstered in preparation for the 500 Elephant project and to account for the increased responsibility of managing animals at risk of poaching. Rangers received refresher training comprising of field tactics, patrol information, bushcraft, and weapons handling. Selected rangers also completed the Basic Field Ranger Training course.

This resulted in far more effective patrols, increased coverage of the reserve and improved morale. A helicopter programme was initiated and focused on airlifting law enforcement teams into remote areas of the reserve not previously covered by patrols. A new radio system greatly increased the scouts’ security and ability to coordinate activities; and all rangers received training in the use of smartphones and CyberTracker devices to collect valuable data on law enforcement, and illegal activities.

The results from our law enforcement team have improved year on year and in 2019 alone, our Rangers conducted 4,482 patrol man days, resulting in the confiscation of 17 firearms, 1,039 snares, 49 illegal fishing nets, and 53 arrests.