Liwonde National Park Conservation Programme – Saving Wildlife & Protecting Communities

Liwonde National Park is a haven for biodiversity in southern Africa. More than 500 elephants, as well as hippos, black rhinoceros, dozens of species of grazing mammals as well as reptiles, fish, insects and more than 600 species of birds live here.

IFAW helps safeguard the park’s elephants and other wildlife affected by human-wildlife conflicts in the park and along its borders.

But Liwonde faces many threats. Malawi’s small size and dense population has resulted in fragmented wildlife habitats – making places like Liwonde islands in a sea of people. Food security and poverty are a constant struggle for ordinary folk and so commercial poaching of wildlife; cutting down of trees for firewood and illegal fishing in the vitally important Shire River threatens the survival of ever-rarer species, including rhinos and elephants.

The Liwonde National Park Conservation Programme is 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 living around the park and training Malawian leaders as the conservation managers and rangers of the future.

If Liwonde is to survive as a safe wildlife habitat ways have to be found to ensure that the human communities that surround it thrive, and IFAW and DNPW have drawn together donors and partners to find alternative livelihood opportunities that will bring long-lasting economic prospects for communities along Liwonde’s borders.

Projects like the Chikolongo Fish Farm on the western boundary of the national park will decrease poaching pressure on the Shire River Basin. Poaching, which has been rampant in the Shire, in turn reduces fish stocks in Lake Malawi as the river is a nursery for bream and catfish – adversely affecting the fishing industry and reducing one of the country’s key  sources of protein.

Community projects such as fish farms, hydroponic agriculture and other alternative farming methods, as well as skills training, relieve pressure on wildlife habitat by reducing poaching of animals and fish for food; as well as preventing the human-wildlife conflicts which inevitably occur when  these take place.

Working together IFAW and DNPW are committed to protecting Liwonde, Malawi’s most important national park and a premier tourist destination.