Liwonde National Park
Liwonde National Park, located in Malawi, the “warm heart of Africa,” has seen spectacular wildlife translocations, reintroductions, and makeovers. When African Parks took over management of Liwonde in 2015, in collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the park was riddled with tens of thousands of wire snares – more snares than large animals – and had some of the region’s highest levels of human-wildlife conflict. Liwonde was a park in terminal decline, on the verge of catastrophic collapse, and on the verge of not being able to be restored at all.
However, in just five years, Liwonde has developed one of the best ranger forces and training grounds in Southern Africa, implemented cutting-edge technology to safeguard and monitor wildlife and management activities, dismantled over 40,000 wire snares, and arranged historic animal reintroductions. In 2016, the park was the site of one of the world’s largest elephant translocations. In order to relieve pressure on Liwonde’s natural habitats and to address the park’s fatal human-wildlife conflict scenario, 336 elephants were transported from Liwonde to Malawi’s Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.
African Parks began re-establishing Liwonde’s predator population and reintroduced cheetahs in 2017, bringing the species back to the park after a 100-year absence. A founding population of ten lions was also reintroduced from Majete Wildlife Reserve in South Africa in 2018. In addition, the park recently hosted one of the largest international black rhino translocations in history, with 17 black rhino from South Africa being transported to the park to increase population numbers and genetics. Liwonde’s wildlife populations are increasing, as is the number of visitors who come to see the park’s rebirth, with over 23,000 tourists visiting the area in 2019. Liwonde has been given a second chance in just a few short years, and it is being restored and transformed for the benefit of the wildlife and the people who live here.