Research in Liwonde
Majete Wildlife Reserve, proclaimed in 1955, is situated in the Lower Shire Valley,
a section of Africa's Great Rift Valley, covering an area of 700 km². Vegetation
is diverse, ranging from moist miombo woodland in the western hills, to dry
savannah in the east with prominent thickets along the riverbanks.
Majete Wildlife Reserve
Majete Wildlife Reserve located at south-western corner of Malawi was gazetted as a game reserve in 1955 and further extended in 1969. Its major part (about 90%) lies within Chikwawa District and the extreme northern section belongs to Mwanza District. This 689km² protected area sustaining three river catchments (those of the Mkurumadzi, Mwanza and the Lower Shire) is nested along the southern reaches of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Semi-arid conditions are characteristic to the Lower Shire Valley with annual precipitation ranging between 680-800mm in the East/South-eastern corner, up to 700-1000mm in the western uplands. Majete’s soil composition can best be described as primarily lithosols, shallow and stony, ferruginous type of low fertility with narrow stretches of fertile alluvial soils occurring along some of the small rivers. The majority of the area is not suitable for cultivation due to the poor soil structure and the frequency of slopes over 12% gradient. The reserve possesses a diverse tapestry of different vegetation types from moist miombo woodland in the western hills, rich riverine and alluvial matrix as well as significant patches of riparian thickets along and near rivers, to dry mixed savannah woodland of low and medium altitudes in the eastern and central areas.
Majete’s mega-fauna was almost completely wiped out by the mid-1990s due to local and cross-border poaching during the incursions of militias of the Mozambican civil war. Illegal logging though formerly a severe problem has by now been brought under control, while illegal charcoal production is still rife in areas buffering the reserve. Since the start of its mandate in 2003, African Parks (the managing body) working together with DNPW field staff has strengthened security, created skilled capacity, built a perimeter fence, developed the road network and reintroduced over 2560 mammals (13 species, like rhino, leopard and lion).
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