By Azzedine Downes
Liwonde National Park is one of Africa’s lesser known gems. Tucked away in Malawi – a tiny country best known to many Westerners as the place from where the pop star Madonna adopted two of her children - Liwonde is one of Southern Africa’s most important biodiversity hot spots.
And it is under threat.
The park and its animals – hundreds of elephants, rhinos, hippos, grazing mammals and over 600 species of birds – battle it out daily within the dense human communities that surround Liwonde, for access to food, water and grazing space.
Commercial poaching threatens the survival of rarer species, and illegal fishing in the Shire River – a nursery for catfish and bream - has reduced fish stocks upstream in Lake Malawi, affecting the fishing industry and taking its toll on the availability of a key source of protein for local communities.
This weekend I joined the Honourable Mrs Rachel Mazombwe-Zulu, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture for Malawi; Ms Tressa Senzani, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Mr Brighton Kumchedwa, Acting Director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife; and Dr Peter Woeste, Ambassador for the Federal Republic of Germany at the opening ceremony of the Chikolongo Community Fish Farm, just outside the western boundary of Liwonde NP. More....