The future looks bright for Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi’s secret wilderness haven

Tongole - Elephants at river by chalet

On Wednesday 22nd July 2015, an official signing ceremony witnessed African Parks, a renowned non-profit conservation NGO, taking over the management of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park in Malawi. This is a significant and exciting development for the country, which can expect benefits to its wildlife, local communities and growth as a tourist and safari destination.

African Parks has proven success in Malawi after a 2003 management agreement saw the transformation of Majete Wildlife Reserve from a neglected, seldom visited reserve with limited wildlife to a restocked, appealing Big 5 destination, growing in popularity and fast becoming one of Malawi¹s premier wildlife sanctuaries.

With African Parks taking responsibility for another two of Malawi’s wildlife reserves, the future is bright for the wildlife and conservation of Malawi and its emergence as a destination, offering some of the best quality safari adventures in the region will be given a welcome boost!

African Parks – a background

African Parks already manages parks in seven African countries and with the addition of Liwonde and Nkhotakota in Malawi, the NGO now manages ten national parks covering 6.15 million hectares. Working in partnership with governments and local communities, the non-profit organisation takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks and protected areas. Their aim is to make wildlife parks socially and economically viable, particularly for the benefit of local communities.

The African Parks agreement

The agreement followed an application process administered by the Public Private Partnership Commission in which African Parks emerged as the preferred partner to take over the management of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park.

African Parks was pleased to announce the agreement with the Government of Malawi to manage and operate the reserves for a 20 year period. When discussing the new agreement, Peter Fernhead, African Parks’ CEO, said, "We are excited about the mandate granted to us by the Ministry Of Information, Tourism and Culture and are encouraged about the potential of both projects. Our aim is to completely restore the biodiversity in both Liwonde and Nkhotakota, enhance the tourism product and experience, reduce the extensive human-wildlife conflict, ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and contribute to the socio economic development of local communities living around the two areas. This will be achieved through an $18m investment in the two parks over a five year period, made possible by a few key partners of African Parks”.

What the agreement means for Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve…

The 1,800 km2 Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve is a vast and genuine wilderness in central Malawi with pristine miombo woodland, interspersed by large patches of tall grasses and even some isolated areas of rainforest.

Elephants and other wildlife, including bushbuck, waterbuck, baboons and warthogs regularly come down to drink from the Bua River, which snakes its way through the reserve to Lake Malawi. Lion, leopard, hyena and buffalo are known to roam this huge wilderness, but are very shy of visitors and much more rarely glimpsed. A unique environment for bird-lovers, Birdlife International has classified the reserve as an Important Bird Area (IBA); with over 280 species of birds already recorded.

Black rhino, cheetah and wild dog once existed here, but are now all locally extinct. It is hoped that under the experienced management of African Parks, this stunning wilderness has the potential to return to its former glory and become an invaluable wildlife conservation area for many species, particularly elephants.

Find out more about the luxurious Tongole Wilderness Lodge nestled within the pristine wilderness of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.


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