In Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi in south eastern Africa, and lying at the centre of the Old town and the New town districts of the city is the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. Founded in 2007, it is Malawi’s only accredited wildlife sanctuary, specializing in care for orphaned and injured wild animals.
Malawi, also known as the “Warm Heart of Africa”, and is known throughout the continent for its stunning environment and friendly people. Once a country that relied heavily on foreign aid, Malawi has since the year 2000 made strives towards financial independence. In all the areas the government has focused, improving health care, education, and environmental protection were among the most important.
Yet due to a growing population in recent years, a strain has been put on the country’s natural resources. The country’s wild animal population that include elephants, rhino, leopards, wild dogs and several threatened species, are facing more and more conflicts with human expansion due to deforestation and habitats loss, poaching and pet and international wildlife trade.
Since it began, the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre has focused on this problem and its impact on the wildlife of the country. Raising ‘wildlife welfare’ awareness which means that instead of focusing on just the threatened species, wildlife welfare focuses on all wild animals. Partnering with the government’s Department of Parks & Wildlife, which is an integral partner in the parks wildlife welfare and conservation work across the country, especially in the area of wildlife confiscations and law enforcement, and several leading international wildlife charities, the Wildlife Centre has worked towards an active change in the country’s environmental protection. Moving far beyond wild animal rescue and rehabilitation, the Wildlife Centre has worked towards improving the welfare and conservation of the nation’s wildlife while creating projects that help to preserve and restore the country’s lost habitats.
The centre has also made on impact on environmental education in the country. As the country’s leading environmental provider and official partner in Eco-Schools (an international award programme involving young people in finding solutions to environmental and sustainable development challenges), the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre involves over 20,000 school children around the country to take part in its programme each year.
Over the years the wildlife centre has gained recognition for its contributions to wildlife protection and has been gained several awards. In 2011, they were awarded a Responsible Tourism Award for the best organization for the Conservation of Wildlife and Habitats. In 2012, after working five years towards this accreditation, the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre received PAW accreditation from the Born Free Foundation. While in 2013, LWC was awarded ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ from the Malawi Tourist Board.
The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre’s care for orphaned and injured wild animals, with over 200 rescued animals currently in residence at the centre, environmental education and sustainable livelihoods programmes is helping communities across the country to live in harmony with their natural heritage, which in turn benefits both the people and wildlife of Malawi.