Malawi is home to some of Africa’s most diverse and stunning wildlife. Elephants, rhino, leopard and wild dog roam the national parks whilst our own reserve is home to over 150 species of bird, hyena, wild pigs and rare species of otter, right in the heart of the capital city.
Sadly as is the case across the continent Malawi’s wildlife is in decline. Take the lion population: there are only 16,000 lions left in the whole of Africa vs. c400,000 in 1950. Only 30 lions are now left in Malawi which equates to half a million people for every lion.
Habitat destruction, human-wildlife conflict, poaching, the pet trade and the international wildlife trade are all contributing to the decline. This is where we can help. There are a number of threatened species in Malawi that we work to conserve, not just by offering sanctuary to orphaned, injured or captive animals, but also through general conservation activities such as protecting habitats, campaigning and law enforcement.
There are many pressing humanitarian issues that take precedence in a country as poor as Malawi like malaria, HIV/AIDs, low literacy levels and women’s rights. But the loss of habitats and thus biodiversity is a looming crisis that threatens the livelihoods and ultimately the survival of people. Forests account for 15.3% of Malawian family incomes and 75% of their energy requirements.
Our environmental education and sustainable livelihoods programmes help to address the causes of the decline in wildlife by helping communities to live in harmony with their natural heritage and as a result our work benefits both the people and wildlife of Malawi.
Whereas conservation focuses on threatened species, wildlife welfare is relevant to all wild animals. Many of the issues we deal with – poaching with the use of snares and traps, or keeping wild animals as pets in unnatural confinement – can inflict unnecessary cruelty. Upholding the Five Welfare Freedoms (Freedom from thirst and hunger, discomfort, pain, injury and disease, and the freedom to express normal behaviour) is central to our work in wildlife rescue, rehabilitation & release and law enforcement, and also features in our education programmes.