- In its efforts to promote private/public sector partnerships, Malawi's Department of Parks and Wildlife has entered into a joint venture with Land & Lake Safaris (L&LS) to develop and run the Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary as a profitable tourist lodge, while also creating a rehabilitation centre for illegally captured wildlife.
Land & Lake Safaris have been operating in Malawi since 1985 with Mark and Angela Sprong as directors of the company. As an established tour operator they have offered quality safaris in Malawi and Zambia.
The Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary is located near the Bisonawaty filling station on Kenyatta Avenue in Malawi's capital city. The sanctuary is known as a rich natural resource in terms of flora biodiversity and small mammal varieties with a combination of wildflowers and woodland. It was originally built as an environmental education centre in the 1970s and covers an area of approximately 166 hectares. It offers a unique tourism attraction to the City of Lilongwe.
The original Lilongwe Zoo, also known as "Zone A" holds a small number of animal cages and an education centre. Due to the lack of operational resources in the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) the animals were neither well fed nor properly cared for, which led to a limited educational experience for any of the city's residence and visitors.
L&LS said it had recognised that a modern and innovative approach to animal welfare and wildlife education was needed in Malawi. The sanctuary, to be renamed the Wildlife Centre is set to provide "a facility every Malawian can be proud of."
"In order to find new direction, it is very important that the new Wildlife Centre learn from the past mistakes in relation to the way many zoos are run in African countries," says a pamphlet explaining the development of the concept.
"With the help of the local government and NGOs, a newly build area known as 'Zone B' in the Nature Sanctuary will be divided into two parts. The first part will be the Development Zone. This is where ten accommodation units, a main restaurant, lounge reception, a bar site and a campsite with ambition block will be built. This is also where most of the commercial activities will take place," adds the information. The Land & Lake Safaris was to operate from the part they are to call "Zone B."
"Zone B" was to be the Wildlife Centre, concentrating on education and animal rehabilitation. Every year, countless adult wild animals are killed and their young sold illegally on the sides of the roads. This new development is to offer a space in the sanctuary where these rescued animals can receive rehabilitation and be relocated back into the wild. This part of the "zone" was also to contain a Wilderness Zone, which is a fenced area to help ensure that the area will remain as natural as possible. The rehabilitated animals were to be released into this area.
"The aim of the newly build Wildlife Centre is to provide a sanctuary space for rescued, confiscated, orphaned and injured animals. They will also try to stop the illegal trade, exchange or commercial exploitation of animals for financial gain," say the organisers.
The Wildlife Centre would also provide employment for the local community. During the construction period, people would be employed at the site in building operations and in road constructions. Once the lodge was finished, the Wildlife Centre was to employ over 40 people in various functions within the development zone. Some local resident were further to provide entertainment.
The economy of Malawi has largely been depending on the agriculture sector. This sector has been contributing 36 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with tobacco accounting for 65 percent of the country's foreign earnings. Currently, the anti-smoke lobbyists and low crop prices have threatened tobacco sales.
The tourism sector is now expected to be a viable substitute to help the country in foreign revenue earnings. The Malawi government has committed to develop "Zone B" to help the tourism industry's foreign exchange earnings.
To help the community benefit from this eco-tourism venture, an area next to the entrance of the Wildlife Centre was to be developed so that local artist could display and sell their art, craft and curios.
The funding for the development of the Wildlife Lodge has been estimated at kwacha 120 million (US$ 858,000) and local government and NGOs have given their full backing to the project.
The Wildlife Centre is keen to contribute to the education of the people of Malawi in areas of wildlife and how it impacts on society. They would like to build awareness and provide advice on animal welfare, wildlife conservation and environmental protection, but also provide and interactive recreational and educational resource for local and overseas visitors.
In order that the new facility covers their day-to-day expenses, it requires that the people of Lilongwe and the Malawi's tourist visitors pay an entrance fee. The current fee is found to be much too low and thus it is almost impossible for the Lilongwe Zoo to fulfil all the animals' needs.
The Sanctuary lodge was said to be completed in November 2008; however a fully functional campsite and tented camp would be operational for use by the end of 2006, it was announced.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.