On the wild side – The story of Malawi’s Liwonde National Park

Cover picture for 'On the Wild Side..'

 On the Wild Side: The Story of Malawi’s Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National Park, on the banks of Malawi’s Shire River, tributary of the mighty Zambezi, is the country’s premier safari destination. It has a rich and diverse history, from David Livingstone, who traversed the present park area while exploring Africa’s inland waters. A 32km stretch of the Shire flows through the park, and the area once offered prime hunting for big game hunters.

Liwonde is famous again for its elephants, congregating seasonally in large numbers on the river banks. Birdlife is superb. Over 400 species are found in the many varied habitats offered by the park.

More than 100 years ago steam boats plied between Liwonde and the then Fort Johnston (Mangochi). Now again one can explore its quiet reaches and small lagoons by boat, to see there hundreds of hippos and crocodiles.

Liwonde has developed over thirty years from offering rustic accommodation, devoid of amenities, to a renowned safari base at Mvuu. The breeding sanctuary, protected within the park, has allowed the re-introduction of the black rhino. Local villagers, living adjacent, benefit from projects encouraging conservation and income generation.

In this work, the first photographic profile of the park, Outi Maattanen-Bourke traces the success of an African conservation effort. Her work is complemented by photography from Malawi’s best wildlife and scenic photographers.

 About the author

Outi Maattanen-Bourke has lived in Malawi since 1994. She married in London and first moved to Blantyre, where her husband worked as a chartered accountant. This was quite a change for Outi, who had previously been a professional journalist in London.

But Malawi soon turned to be a positive experience: the friendliness and hospitality of Malawians made it easy to explore the country, its culture and customs. Liwonde National Park and Mvuu Camp became frequently visited destinations during holidays, especially after the birth of their daughter in 1996. Initially fascinated by the behaviour of hippo and elephant on the Shire River combined with the sensual pleasures of the African bush, Outi gradually developed a deeper interest in the wildlife and conservation issues affecting Liwonde.

After moving to the capital, Lilongwe, Outi gradually worked as a travel consultant fro Central African Wilderness Safaris. This gave her a good opportunity to observe how a poor country like Malawi can develop eco-tourism as an asset in partnership with government between government and the private sector. In 2001, Outi was appointed as the Honorary Consul of Finland in Malawi. She is currently based in Lilongwe.

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