Majete Wildlife Reserve
Majete is one of the outstanding success stories of African conservation. Granted protected status in 1955, it became the subject of extensive poaching in the 1980s and 1990s. But a concerted joint effort since 2003 by the African Parks Network and the Malawi government - including the reintroduction of endangered species - has turned it into a model of sustainable development and biodiversity.
Located in the south of Malawi close to the city of Blantyre, Majete is an area of 70.000 hectares, part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The reserve is made up of mature miombo woodlands and granite topped hills that contrast with picturesque river valleys and lush riverine forest.
For connoisseurs of wildlife many exciting encounters lie in store, with the chance to view many species including black rhino, elephant, buffalo, eland, kudu, sable, suni, klipspringer, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and zebra.
Restoring the reserve to its former beauty is not merely an exercise in attracting tourists. The stated aim is to benefit the people of Malawi and, in particular, the local communities in Majete. Poachers will, literally, turn gamekeeper.
The growth of tourism will be strictly controlled, making the experience for visitors to Mkulumadzi all the more special.
Before the agreement between African Parks and the Malawi government in 2003, Majete was in a sorry state. Although the flora was intact, years of under-investment and rampant poaching had emptied the park of most of its large mammals.
The rejuvenation of the reserve began with law enforcement. Scouts received new equipment and training, and a 160km electrified fence was erected around the perimeter to protect local villages from marauding elephant, buffalo and hippo. Elephants in the reserve were captured, darted and collared, and a new GPS mapping and monitoring system allows scouts to record each patrol on a handheld device, noting vital information such as wildlife sightings, water sources and illegal activities.
Infrastructure was improved with the clearing of 250km of new roads and the erection of new buildings including a Heritage Centre for visitors.
The reintroduction of more than 3,000 animals from other areas of Malawi and neighbouring countries began in 2003 and included black rhino, elephant, buffalo, eland, kudu, zebra, warthog, sable, waterbuck, impala and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest.
In 2006, a total of 70 elephants were imported from Liwonde National Park. Two years later their numbers had grown to 82, and further introductions increased the elephant population to 144.
The black rhino - listed by CITES as a critically endangered species - was introduced at about the same time, with scouts monitoring their progress on a daily basis. In July 2008 the first rhino calf was born and further successful births have brought the total number to nine, second in Malawi only to Liwonde National Park.
Find out more about the Majete story at the African Parks Network website.