Widespread poverty, limited expansion room and exploding population. With so much need how can there be hope for wildlife?
At $250 a day a person earns a fairly decent income in the USA. Now consider making $250 a year! Yes, that’s not a month, but a year! With so little money for humans how can there be any hope for wildlife in Malawi, the poorest country in the world?
However, despite the poverty. Despite the destruction of many forests, we still find birds where ever we go. Ed, the owner of the Chitimba Camp on the northern shores of Lake Malawi has identified 43 species on his property. Ed has been here for over ten years. He has removed alien species, has planted trees and is restoring the beach boundaries with indigenous grasses. Most importantly he teaches his staff and those in the surrounding community. Teaches them not to kill snakes, owls, monitors and the small buck that live here. When an unwanted visitor (like a cobra) comes calling they only resort to killing when it won’t stay out of the ablution (guests don’t like sharing.)
Over the years Ed has saved two Wood Owls (and taught the staff they are not evil), a Genet (who now has a wild mate and comes by most nights according to the guard), an orphaned Duiker (who lives in the brush behind the kitchen), several Monitors (large lizards locals used to fear and kill), and numerous Cobras.
There are probably more ordinary people like Ed and Sam making a difference. (Sam is the owner of Cool Running. Read about her here).
Then there are those directly involved with wildlife conservation. People like Lynn, Connex and Reto. All three are associated with the Wildlife Action Group. This UK based organization is committed to preserving select forest reserves and the wildlife calling these areas home.
On a much larger scale are the folks at African Parks. Majete Game Reserve being their huge success story and model. In 2003 this beautiful area around the Shire river was void of wildlife. Today it is a Big Five reserve with enough game to repopulate other parks. (Read more about the African Parks successful wildlife conservation model here.)
Is there hope for wildlife in the world’s poorest country? We choose to remain optimistic.