African Parks has invested about K10.7 billion in the rehabilitation of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve to empower Malawians and promote tourism in the country.
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve park manager Samuel Kamoto said this during a media familiarisation tour of the park on Friday organised by the Department of Tourism.
He said African Parks—a public private partnership (PPP) operator of the reserve—has carried out several major activities since it signed a 20-year concession for the management of the park in 2015.
Said Kamoto: “The K10.7 billion includes stocking the park with new animals, erecting a modern fence covering 281-square kilometres, fitting devices for monitoring of animals and construction of offices and staff houses.
“We have also invested in construction of warehouses and other tourist facilities, training and recruitment of more staff, procurement of vehicles and machinery, reforestation, improving road network, setting up an environmental education centre and management of communities.”
He said on average, the company spends about K2.2 billion per year in managing and developing the park and provides about K164 million towards empowering communities and protecting the park.
Kamoto also lamented that Covid-19 has negatively affected the park as it is not getting international tourists, thereby losing about 95 percent of revenue.
“The number of visitors dropped from 1 199 in 2019 to 246 in 2020. From 2020 to 2021, the people coming here are mostly local visitors, in other words visitors from Malawi,” he said.
However, he was hopeful that with a boost in animal population and the setting up of other tourism facilities, the park will be able to attract more visitors.
One of the community members, David Nguluwe, who is a beneficiary of irrigation scheme and beekeeping, said African Parks has helped empower communities economically.
“If you go around you will see that people are into farming and other economic activities. People have surrendered the weapons they used for poaching. Our families are now food-secure and are able to send their children to school, among other benefits,” he said.
Nguluwe also said several key species have been reintroduced to the park after a long period of absence to restore the natural system and encourage growth in wildlife tourism.
African Parks conducted one of the largest elephant translocations in August 2017 when about 500 elephants were moved from Liwonde National Park in Machinga and Majete Wildlife Reserve in Chikwawa to repopulate Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
African Parks also manages Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park.