Malawi Fish Farm Project Saves Lives, Protects Wildlife
The launch of the Chikolongo Community Fish Farm, near Liwonde National Park, uniquely links the need for animal welfare with that of humans.
The fish farm is also expected to reduce poaching pressure on Malawi’s premier tourism attraction, where hundreds of elephants roam free, along with hippos, grazing mammals, reptiles and more than 600 bird species.
“The launch of the Chikolongo Community Fish Farm this weekend was a first step in providing an alternative livelihood opportunity to a community which, until now, has relied heavily on Liwonde National Park for water and food security,” said Azzedine Downes, President of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org).
“Liwonde NP’s crowning glory is the Shire River, which runs through the park, and provides a nursery for bream and catfish which eventually swim upstream to Lake Malawi. Unfortunately poaching is rampant in the Shire River Basin and that has, in turn, reduced stocks of one of Malawi’s key sources of protein and is close to destroying the fishing industry” said Downes.
“In addition, there are frequent incidents of human-wildlife conflict – which are bound to occur when people impact on wild habitats. People are killed by crocodiles while fishing or fetching water from the river; and elephants raid crops and granaries. Women – who are mostly responsible for fetching water – area are also at risk from criminal attack.
“The Chikolongo Community Fish Farm will give the people of this intensely populated community a reason not to go into the park.”
The farm was opened by Rachel Mazombwe-Zulu, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture for Malawi.
“This area has been a hot spot of human-wildlife conflict for a number of years, leading to considerable and alarming loss of human life, the loss of crops and livelihoods and the unsustainable exploitation of the resources of Liwonde NP,” said Mazombe-Zulu.
“The Government of Malawi commends IFAW for implementing the project. We believe it to be an excellent way of addressing human-wildlife conflict along the boundary of the park. It has come at the right time when Government is emphasizing a participatory approach to wildlife conservation.”
IFAW, with the Federal Republic of Germany, has funded the fish farm that will benefit more than 600 families from Chikolongo village on the western boundary of Liwonde NP.
Dr Peter Woeste, Ambassador for the Federal Republic of Germany in Malawi, said the project was a direct response to an appeal for help from the Chikolongo community.
“The elders identified a fish farm as something that could improve life for the villagers. We’re hoping the farm will keep the villagers safe and the animals safe, and we’re relying on the support of Chikolongo to make sure the farm is a success,” he said.
The Chikolongo Community Fish Farm, is spread over an area approximately one kilometer long by 500 metres wide, and consists of a several ponds of various sizes. The ponds are stocked with the same fish that are endemic to the Shire River.
The project forms part of the Liwonde National Park Conservation Programme, a partnership between IFAW and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) of the Government of Malawi.
The project helps safeguard Liwonde National Park and its wildlife by enhancing capacity for park security, providing basic park management resources, mitigating human-wildlife conflict, providing alternative livelihood opportunities for communities around the park and training Malawian leaders as the conservation managers and rangers of the future.
IFAW’s support helps safeguard the park’s elephants and other wildlife affected by human-wildlife conflicts both in the park and along its borders. These conflicts include poaching and habitat encroachment.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
IFAW is working to help protect elephants on the ground by supporting anti-poaching patrol trainings, working with Interpol to boost enforcement to fight wildlife trafficking and reducing demand for ivory through consumer awareness campaigns. IFAW is supporting the Indian Government in presenting the historic E50:50 Elephant Congress which will take place in New Delhi in November 2013, bringing together for the first time ministers from the 50 elephant range countries to address the conservation and welfare needs of elephants worldwide for the next 50 years.
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