Reports of lion on the Nyika Plateau have finally been confirmed thanks to staff and guests at Chelinda Lodge.
A handful of sightings have been reported there in recent decades, likely representing transient individuals moving within the Malawi-Zambia Trans-Frontier Conservation Area, but this particular lion appears to have hung around for a while, and there have also been unconfirmed reports of a lioness in the area.
This is exciting news for conservationists, since lions are a key indicator species of healthy intact landscapes, which themselves are critical for the ecosystem services upon which humans rely. The Nyika means ‘where the water comes from’ and is indeed one of Malawi’s most important catchment areas and its largest national park covering 3,200 km2. Reaching altitudes of over 2500 m, the dramatic scenery is often compared to wilderness areas found in Europe – ‘like the Scotland Highlands, but with herds of zebra, roan and eland’.
Lions are also a key draw for tourists which in turn generates income for local communities as well as contributing to the economy in Malawi’s economy. The ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ is now emerging as one of Africa’s hottest tourism destinations, thanks in large part to increasing wildlife populations and improved park management. Nyika’s remoteness can often put tourists off making the long trip but perhaps a new pride of lions could be just what the Nyika needs to push it back up as a key contender in Malawi’s top picks.
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