Sir Peter Scott Fund project: Black Rhino, Malawi

'A community-based approach to the management of the Black Rhino in Liwonde National Park'

Objectives

  • To involve local people in the conservation of rhinos in Liwonde
  • To maintain park perimeters to ensure the safety of rhinos

Background

The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), became extinct in Malawi in the late1980s but was reintroduced to Liwonde National Park in 1993.

It is the objective of the Malawi Rhino Project to bring together local people, park authorities and other stakeholders to work together to manage this highly threatened species.

The Liwonde National Park has nine rhinos in its designated Rhino Sanctuary. The park perimeter is densely populated by village settlements and local people have felt resentment towards the park, and its rhinos, which represent a natural resource denied to them.

A government scheme has been developed to direct 50% of park revenues – raised largely from visitors to the rhinos – towards neighbouring communities.The project will focus on involving local people in the management of the perimeter fence. Erected in 1993 to protect the rhinos from poachers, it has frequently been vandalised. 

The project seeks to communicate to local people the value of the rhinos and the importance of the perimeter fence in protecting this valuable commodity.

Project updates

(May 2008) On the 8th and 9th May 2008, at a meeting with Liwonde National Park staff, the project agreed to liaise with four ‘Village Natural Resources Committees’ (VNRCs), in Wadi, Mjahito, Mjenjema and Chilawo - all villages close to the Rhino Sanctuary.

(June 2008) Three village headmen and the four VNRC chair people met on 7th June 2008 to hear the project plan for creating a mutually beneficial relationship between park and people.

The community-based approach was welcomed with excitement. Representatives noted that the project was the first of its kind and felt the relationship with the park was improving.

After the VNRC meeting the villages agreed to participate in maintaining the park fence by collaborating with park staff - a major achievement for the project.

Fence mending tools were presented to the village head men. Tours of the park were arranged for the participants and a reward fund was established to encourage community policing of the perimeter. 

Duration: 2008 - 2009
Project leader: Dr. Roy Bhima
IUCN SSC Specialist Group:
African Rhinos
Project donors: IUCN & Fondation Ensemble