Majete Wildlife Reserve, situated in Malawi’s lower Shire valley is well on its way to becoming a Big Five park, having undertaken a bold and inspiring wildlife reintroduction programme to restore the park to its former glory before human intervention.
The 70,000 hectare reserve has been a conservation success story since African Parks assumed management in 2003, with over 2 550 head of wildlife, including elephant, buffalo, sable and black rhino, introduced to the park over eight years costing over $2.4 million.
The plan to gradually introduce predators back into the park started in October 2011 with the introduction of 8 leopards re-located from the Kruger National Park in South Africa. The introduction of leopard is the penultimate step in the Majete restocking programme, which will culminate in the reintroduction of lion in 2012.
Until the launch of this project only one viable population of leopard existed in Malawi within the Nyika National Park. These leopards are the first to be introduced to Malawi across international borders, and the first leopards to make their home in Majete for nearly two decades.
Dorian Tilbury, Field Operations Manager, African Parks Majete commented: “Our mission is to restore, restock and rehabilitate Majete to the condition it was in before human impact. A vital component of the natural system, leopards have been the first predator to be introduced because they have less of an impact on prey species than lion which is the other indigenous predator at Majete.
“To ensure all species flourish we had to get the timing right, leopards and lions often conflict with each other and if lions were brought in first it would have been more difficult for the leopards to establish themselves. Lions also eat more and it was necessary to allow the prey species numbers build up a little more before we introduced lions to ensure their survival”
Kelly White, Managing Director of the Malawi Travel Marketing Consortium commented:“The work African Parks is doing at Majete is set to have a phenomenal impact on tourism in Malawi, particularly for the safari industry.
“While Africa as a whole continues to open up other special interest areas for wildlife enthusiasts, the Big Five understandably remains the single biggest draw, so being able to provide a top-notch game experience will broaden the appeal and open up new markets for Malawi.”