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Change Is Coming To The Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
Posted on: Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Blog Category: 'Wildlife & Reserves'

Home of Tongole Wilderness Lodge, the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve covers an area of 1800 km² in the heart of central Malawi. A stunning example of a pure African wilderness, Nkhotakota is currently a sanctuary for herds of elephants, antelopes, troops of monkey, a vast array of bird species and small populations of lion, leopard and buffalo. A great place to experience a ‘slow’ safari -- ideally by canoe  or on foot -- Nkhotakota also boasts exotic miombo woodland peppered with rugged terrain and even patches of untouched African rainforest.

The reserve is reputed to be one of the last unspoilt wildernesses in all of Malawi. Poaching, deforestation and habitat destruction are relatively low in Nkhotakota. There is much on offer here, with plenty for visitors to see and experience; yet it was not always this way. Up until recently there was relatively little to draw visitors and access was extremely limited.  However, a rise in private investment has seen the reserve transforming and establishing a name for itself as a must see destination. A choice of exciting accommodation options have provided idyllic retreats from which to explore the reserve and the animal sightings have improved; with elephants, antelopes and other wildlife concentrating in these areas, seemingly finding refuge closeby.  Work has been ongoing for some years now, exploring the potential of Nkhotakota, and the trend is set to continue with the future now looking very bright for Nkhotakota.

African Parks, a conservation group dedicated to developing and maintaining wildlife reserves in Africa, has recently  been granted management of the reserve and pledged to make some big changes in the coming years. The most ambitious plan is to have an elephant sanctuary established in 2016, with the relocation of around 400 elephants from other Malawian reserves, bolstering their numbers to over 600. The sanctuary is to be located near the Tongole Wilderness Lodge and, once complete, will be followed by the introduction of many other animal species, with the hope of making Nkhotakota a ‘Big Five’ reserve within the next decade. The area will also see increased security and protection against illegal animal poaching to safeguard the existing and introduced animal populations.

While these plans may seem ambitious, African Parks has received backing from numerous non-profit organisations, both domestic and international and, with significant experience and success managing reserves in some other very challenging regions, is likely to go ahead as proposed. The expansion of Nkhotakota means only good things for Malawian wildlife, the locals and their economy. The improvements are designed not just to increase the interest of travellers to this part of the world, by providing them with a thrilling experience, but to protect precious wildlife  and provide a boost to jobs and infrastructure for the communities in the surrounding area.

Nkhotakota is, as of this moment, an excellent destination for travellers seeking a unique take on the safari experience in an untouched corner of the African continent. Although the new management of the reserve will likely increase tourism to the area, the plans are for this to be achieved strategically and sustainably, meaning it will bring benefits without a detrimental effect on the tranquil atmosphere of one of Africa’s most unique wildlife reserves.

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