Majete Wildlife Reserve to become Malawi's only Big Five park

Majete Wildlife Reserve to become Malawi's only Big Five park

Later this month the Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi will be reinstated with Big Five status

No other parks in Malawi have the status and the reintroduction of a lion population has completed the Big Five award.

The park has been restocked with over 2,500 animals, with leopards also being recently reintroduced back in October 2011 and January 2012.

Three lions have been added to the reserve, which will be accompanied by the four different breeds of animal already there. The other four animals in the park are the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, the leopard, and the rhinoceros.

The reserve is located in southern Malawi's Lower Shire Valley. The 70,000 hectare park was granted protected status back in 1955 but was still subjected to massive poaching problems, particularly in the 80s and 90s. The poaching almost took its toll on the park and a large number of mammals were lost.

Since 2003 there has been extensive efforts made by local authorities to restore the park to its original state, costing £1.5 million.

The work has been led by the philanthropic African Parks Network who agreed with the Malawi government to take control of the park.

The transformation of the park has been great news for the Malawi community and the very people who poached in the park are now the gamekeepers who watch over the animals.

Chris McIntyre, Managing Director of Malawi specialist tour operator Expert Africa, said: "The re-introduction of lion, to add to Majete's growing population of leopard, is a massive coup for Malawian tourism."

Robin Pope Safaris are a Zambia and Malawi safari specialist operator who have worked with numerous African Parks and have opened one of only two lodges in the park. Mkulumadzi Lodge, at the confluence of two rivers close to the Kapichira Falls, combines luxury with isolation under the shade of giant leadwood trees and wild mangos.

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