Lilongwe Wildlife Centre
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre
Malawi is known as "the warm heart of Africa", both for its stunning beauty and its friendly people. As one of the most densely populated countries on the continent and one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi faces enormous pressure on its natural resources. Rampant deforestation, poaching, and the illegal trade of wild animals pose a major threat to the conservation of both wildlife and the environment in Malawi.
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is a wildlife rescue, conservation and education facility, located in the heart of the capital city. The centre is a 180 hectare wildlife reserve which constitutes one of Malawi’s last urban wildernesses. It offers fantastic biodiversity with animals such as hyena, porcupine, and bush baby, numerous insect and bird species, along with amazing examples of hardwood trees and even rare orchids. It is not only Malawi’s only sanctuary for rescued, orphaned and injured wild animals, but it is also the world´s first accredited "People & Wildlife" centre. As such, Lilongwe Wildlife Centre’s vision is not only saving the lives of individual animals but also becoming the country’s leader in environmental and conservation education.
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is a key education and recreation facility, giving people the opportunity to get closer to nature and to see the value of wildlife conservation for themselves. In addition to guided tours, Lilongwe Wildlife Centre has cut over 6km of wilderness trails through the reserve for walking safaris and picnics.
The new education centre facilitates work with school groups, and hundreds of children are welcomed through its gates every week. Last year, some 15,000 students of all different ages and backgrounds visited Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. For many of these children this is their only opportunity to experience their country’s wildlife as they will never have the opportunity to visit Malawi’s national parks. Less privileged schools and orphanages are heavily subsidized to ensure that the centre is accessible to everyone.
The education programme focuses on people and wildlife issues such as the illegal bush meat and pet trade, deforestation, habitat pollution, waste management, health and nutrition, as well as climate change. The interactive education modules have been developed to enhance the local curriculum, and the education team is trained to deliver the message both at the Centre and in classrooms.
Community Outreach Programme
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre’s community outreach projects include income generating activities, as well as skill development for the local people. 12 PAW (People and Wildlife) groups, each including chiefs and head teachers, have been set up in some of the poorest surrounding communities. This gives the Centre a platform from which to facilitate community led initiatives and to ensure local support for its work in conservation. The Centre’s community outreach projects include afforestation, provision of alternative fuel sources, promotion of sustainable agriculture practices and recycling.
The ground breaking ´Green and Clean´ programme is supported by the International Tree Foundation and Lilongwe City Council with the core aim of helping to restore degraded land and ensure its protection in the future. Schools are encouraged to take ownership of their own projects and are supported by the Centre´s community outreach team. The initiative not only includes active conservation but also helps to develop skills, empowering people to improve their everyday lives through income generation and a better living environment.
With Tusk’s support, Lilongwe Wildlife Centre will continue to provide opportunities for the local community to experience the flora and fauna of Malawi and to develop conservation awareness in the next generation.
Recently the Centre’s education officers have been undertaking extensive urban school outreach activities to increase awareness of environmental issues at schools and the programmes on offer at the Centre.
The Centre has over 200 school members and outreach has been considered a huge success, with hundreds of children coming through our gates every week. When children visit the Centre, Tusk’s PACE materials are used to supplement their visits. We have found the videos particularly useful!