Rhinos…and the Return of Malawi’s Wildlife

Cover picture of 'Rhinos...'

Rhinos..and the return of Malawi’s wildlife

Bentley Palmer

Until recently the black rhino was indigenous to Malawi. It had survived in Kasungu National Park until the late 1970s. In the south the last rhino in Mwabvi, and Malawi, was seen in the 1980s when a large riverside herd of elephant also disappeared in Majete. These final losses occurred at a time Malawi was host to nearly one million refugees fleeing the civil war in Mozambique.

In reaction to the loss of one of the ‘Big five’, famed conservationist Dr Anthony Hall Martin, with Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife, launched the South Africa- Liwonde Wildlife Project. Bentley Palmer and his colleagues were quick to join the effort. They found ready support in all quarters – finance, conservation expertise and a government aiming for joint public/private initiatives. Their success, the re-introduction of a species extinct in Malawi, was so successful in Liwonde and Majete that private sector-funded lodges and camps are still opening to accommodate vibrant new tourist markets.

This book is very much a personal record by a dedicated conservationist and the product of a love for Africa’s wildlife. Bentley dwells on the species now to be found and seen again, more than on the personalities and administrative procedures which provided an essential backdrop for success. His photography, of great quality and interest, is a memorable, indeed historic, record of conservation success.

About the author

Bentley Palmer was born in Croydon, England, in 1947 before emigrating to Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in 1951 and was brought up on a farm in Karoi. It was there he first developed a fascination with African wildlife and learned, from an early age, the delicate skills of tracking wild animals. He was educated at the elite Plumtree School where he spent much time in the surrounding kopjies and bushveld catching reptiles and raptors to keep as pests.

On leaving school, he was immediately conscripted into territorial military service with the Rhodesian army. Subsequent employment saw him transferred to Malawi from Rhodesia in 1978 – shortly before Zimbabwe attained independence.

He is married to Merry without whose total support he says his contributions to the Malawi rhino project would never have been started, let alone be recorded in the form of this book.

They have three children Graeme, married to Helen in Johannesburg, Tonya who is married to Philippe and lives on Reunion Island, and Darryn whose wife is Tracy, living in Pietermaritzburg near Durban. Bentley and Merry are totally devoted to their grandchildren Dylan, Shona and Riley whose youthful interest in wildlife and conservation  they are already encouraging at every opportunity.

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