On this year’s World Wildlife Day, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust celebrated the theme Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet by announcing their Project GreenHeart.
The exciting initiative focusses on the 180-acre forest reserve that is home to the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Malawi’s only wildlife rescue and welfare facility. Project GreenHeart will also kick off the first phase of an ambitious vision to create an ecological corridor through the heart of the capital city.
Lilongwe is a rapidly urbanising city, with increasing encroachment on green spaces and few opportunities for people to escape the ‘built’ environment. At the same time, there is a growing body of evidence documenting the benefits of urban nature to human health and wellbeing. As such, the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is perfectly placed to provide critical opportunities not just for wildlife protection, but for nature-based recreation and environmental education.
Just over a decade after first opening its gates, the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is undergoing major renovations under the Project Greenheart initiative. Central to the redevelopment are the substantial upgrades to the wildlife rehabilitation facilities, generously funded by the Olsen Animal Trust and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, further enhancing the Wildlife Centre’s standing as a world-class rescue centre. Thanks to funding and technical support from UNDP, GIZ, USAID / US Forest Service and Stitching Amfort, the construction of a new visitor hub, education and training facilities will help us to create a new ‘centre of environmental excellence’ that will connect people with nature, build in-country environmental capacity, and inspire conservation action. This investment will also help the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre to fulfil its potential as a leading eco-tourism destination, in turn creating nature-based jobs for local communities, which will be a critical part of Lilongwe’s ‘green recovery’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ian D’heygere, Manager of Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, said, “As well as housing our wildlife sanctuary, the site hosts the last remaining stand of the nationally endangered Piliostigma-Acacia-Combretum woodland, and is also home to diverse wildlife, from hyenas, bushpigs and crocodiles to over 200 species of bird. The protection of this valuable ecosystem is absolutely critical, and it has been disheartening to see the degradation in the surrounding areas over the years. We are encouraged by the City Council’s commitment to restore urban biodiversity and we look forward to contributing to its vision.”
The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is the central hub for all of LWT’s national wildlife protection work. Thanks to support from the Olsen Animal Trust and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, we are building a brand new veterinary clinic and animal enclosures that will enable our team to help even more animals recover from abuse, injury and suffering, and get a second chance at life back in the wild.
“Improving crucial facilities will further strengthen our capacity for wildlife protection,” says our Head Vet, Dr. Amanda Salb. “Whenever possible, we release animals we receive back into the wild once they have been rehabilitated. To achieve this successfully, the welfare of each individual animal must always be our priority.”
These new facilities will also support professional development, training and volunteering opportunities for Malawian and international students, researchers and the general public, through LWT’s conservation placement programme.
Find out more about Lilongwe Wildlife Trust on their dedicated page here.
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