Majete Wildlife Reserve has been described as “an island within a sea of development;” it is envisioned as a model public-private partnership that could be replicated in other areas of Malawi and Africa. Now, as the park is maturing, the focus is on the consolidation of existing systems and infrastructure, completing the ecological component of the reserve and growing the income base to work towards a financially stable future. With the correct management of the study species, areas such as the remaining miombo woodlands and riverine forests will also be protected.
This Expedition will play an important role in collecting the ecological data needed to make informed decisions on the effective management of fauna and flora. The re-introduced species have all been released from the initial sanctuary/boma holding area and they are now free to roam the entire park, and of course this leads to a number of questions: How far will they roam? What effect will they have on the vegetation? Will they reproduce successfully? How will they interact with each other? What effect will the newly re-introduced predators have on their prey populations?
It is hoped that with time, excess game from Majete will be used to stock other national parks and wildlife reserves in Malawi that were also devastated by rampant poaching in the past. Additionally, Malawi is in need of tourism revenue and Majete is slowly becoming a draw card for tourists. Without the required science contributing to management decisions, Majete will not be managed to its greatest capacity.
Meet the Scientists
Dr. Alison Leslie
Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Dr. Alison Leslie, a senior lecturer in the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology (Faculty of Agrisciences) at Stellenbosch University in South Africa did her undergraduate degree at Stellenbosch University majoring in Zoology and Botany and then completed an MSc and Ph.D. program at Drexel University in the USA, working on sea turtles and crocodiles. In 2002, she joined the then known Faculty of Forestry, Department of Nature Conservation, as a part-time lecturer. In 2004, she became head of the newly formed Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology. Dr. Leslie’s research interests are broad with regards to the species studied, however a common link among her various projects, is the compilation of management plans for governments, farmers, wildlife organizations, etc. Dr. Leslie has worked with many Earthwatch projects in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia and has extensive experience in working with volunteers. She is also a well known TV personality having worked with National Geographic television, the BBC and a number of other documentary producers.