Embracing Digital Innovation for Combating Wildlife Loss in Malawi

By Raymond Nakulenga

Zebras in Nyika National Park | Photo Credit: Welton Phalira

The introduction and sustainable use of digital technology can help national governments and partners in the wildlife sector to conserve wildlife and thus, boost the tourism sector. This would, in turn accelerate the achievement of inclusive growth and self-reliance, which is one of the aspirations of Malawians enshrined in Malawi 2063 (The national vision) since tourism is a major contributor to Malawi’ GDP, providing 7.7 percent, according to the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

Malawi has 88 forest reserves, five national parks, four wildlife reserves and three nature sanctuaries” that if carefully managed and used, would generate the required income including forex to the country. However, Malawi’s wildlife sector is experiencing challenges such as poaching, encroachment, invasive alien species and human-wildlife conflict. Climate change is exacerbating these challenges through increased drought episodes that make wildlife habitats susceptible to destruction by fire. According to African Parks Chief Executive Officer, Peter Fearnhead, human-wildlife conflict is a long-standing issue among communities around wildlife reserves, and it was worst in Liwonde National park in 2015 due to declining security as the Park had no fence and effective surveillance system until the institution introduced security enhancement measures including a perimeter fence and surveillance cameras.

A drone test exercise, aimed for surveillance to battle poaching in game reserves | Photo credit: Nyasatimes

Commenting on advancement in wildlife management measures, the Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Joseph Nkosi, explained that the introduction of a central database for monitoring of wildlife has allowed park rangers and wildlife management stakeholders to analyze and resolve incidents faster and better.

 “Every situation is unique, be it encroachment, animal attacks on humans and vice versa or other incidents, our new system is capable of resolving the issues”, said Nkosi. He added that to address poaching, the Department of Parks and Wildlife is using wildlife tracking collars for animals that poachers mostly target such as elephants and rhinos. “However, we are concerned that poachers are also advancing in their techniques and tactics in poaching,” he lamented.

As we commemorate this year’s World Wildlife Day on March 3 under the theme “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation”, we pause and ask, has Malawi embraced digitalization in the management of wildlife resources? According to Mr. Joseph Nkosi, the country has introduced technology in wildlife conservation, but sustaining and upgrading such equipment if often challenging particularly because the technology is not cheap. “With the help of African Parks, we have managed to acquire drones and surveillance cameras for Kasungu National Park,” he said. “Notwithstanding, the country needs to embrace and continuously advance in digital technology to effectively monitor and address wildlife related malpractices”, he added. 

The World Wildlife Day implores us to explore digital innovation and highlight how digital technologies and services can drive wildlife conservation and human-wildlife coexistence, now and for future generations in an increasingly connected world.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top