LIWONDE NATIONAL PARK
Liwonde National Park (NP) is located in Malawi’s Southern Region. It makes up part of the larger Liwonde-Mangochi complex which is managed by African Parks in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
Liwonde NP is home to Malawi’s largest elephant, black rhino, cheetah and waterbuck populations. The park’s large herbivore numbers have allowed it to act as a source population, providing numerous animals to other protected areas in Malawi in an effort to restock and enhance genetic diversity. As such, Liwonde NP was at the heart of the largest elephant translocation in history, led by African Parks and known as ‘500 Elephants‘. Situated on the famous Shire River, habitats vary from vast floodplains to cathedral mopane woodlands. In recent years Liwonde has been the host of numerous wildlife reintroductions. It is now the top park in Malawi for carnivore sightings, especially cheetahs and lions.
WILDLIFE MONITORING PLACEMENTS: WHAT TO EXPECT
We are offering exciting new placements that support our biodiversity monitoring work in partnership with African Parks. Our monitoring in Liwonde NP focuses primarily on species of special concern, including elephants, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards, vultures, lovebirds and parrots. Information collected is used to inform the park’s adaptive population management strategies – which means that people who sign up for a placement will make a direct difference to the protection and conservation of Malawi’s wildlife.
Field work is intensive and requires early starts, long days and plenty of patience! Activities include radio tracking of targeted animals, checking camera traps and recording opportunistic sightings. Working as part of a small team, you’ll learn how to conduct VHF radio tracking, animal identification, camera trapping and data entry. You’ll also experience some truly unique moments as you learn more about the dynamics of groups and individual wild animals during your placement. This may include moments such as witnessing the take-over of a pride by a new male, watching a female cheetah teaching her cubs how to hunt or observing the dynamics between vultures and mammalian predators at a carcass.
Our field work generally runs for five and a half days a week. Participants will occasionally have down time between morning and afternoon monitoring sessions, although our work is unpredictable and may result in full days in the field. In the evenings, however, there will be a chance to sit around the fire, listen to the sounds of the bush and chat about the day’s events.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
This immersive experience will allow you to learn first-hand about the various conservation techniques and initiatives that are critical to protecting Africa’s wildlife. This includes understanding the metapopulation approach to large carnivore management and conservation and the importance of monitoring in creating an adaptive park management strategy. By the end of your stay you will be skilled in African mammal identification, VHF radio tracking, camera trapping, data entry and well versed in the use of CyberTracker software for data collection.
Our research camp is located on the edge of the Likwenu River, close to the main gate. Placement participants stay in shared rooms. There is a large kitchen and outdoor fire area. Ablutions include flush toilets and hot showers. Power at the research camp is intermittent and often powered by a backup power source, therefore we recommend limiting the number of devices that require charging. Whilst there is no WiFi available, there is 3G coverage at camp, and our staff will help you to get data for your cellular device so you can contact home.
Three vegetarian meals a day are provided. Cooking and cleaning duties are shared communally. Our team can cater for any dietary requirement that is mentioned prior to arrival.
Activities vary based on time of year, project needs and park requirements. For these reasons, placement participants are not guaranteed to take part in all activities.
- Camera trapping
- VHF tracking of cheetahs, lions and various other species
- Behavioural observations of cheetahs, lions and elephants
- Developing identification kits for hyenas, cheetahs, lions and servals
- Developing identification kits for elephants
- Vulture road counts
- Lovebird road counts
- Vegetation surveys
- Large carnivore diet surveys through scat collection
- Data entry and GIS mapping