Education is at the heart of any successful conservation programme and NVT UK funds an environmental education programme in northern Malawi, operated by The Lilongwe Wildlife Trust. LWT teach communities, through schools, the importance of the environment and the harmful consequences of poaching, deforestation and killing animals that raid crops. The programme also funds training of local magistrates in wildlife law (leading to greater enforcement), and is looking at ways to replace the income that communities earn through lucrative trade in bush meat and edible orchids.
Phase 1: May 2016-April 2019
Training modules and materials were developed on three themes: wildlife conservation and welfare, human-wildlife conflict, and wildlife crime. LWT education officers trained school teachers to deliver the modules and help the schools set up wildlife clubs. Children have been motivated by visits to the Nyika plateau for their first experience of Malawi’s precious wildlife. In Rumphi District children from over 31 schools have enjoyed spreading the word about conservation with songs, drama, debate, marches and banners. Cooperation is important and this programme has involved the Department of National Parks & Wildlife officers working with Natural Resource Committees and community leaders who have a wide influence.
Since the Malawi government changed its wildlife legislation to jail people caught poaching, with no option of a fine, the message has got through and this tough approach is having the required effect in reducing poaching numbers. This first phase has been making a positive difference, but there is more work to do.
Phase 2: May 2019-April 2022
Funding has been agreed for the first year of Phase 2, with continued conservation education in the north of Malawi, expanding outside Rumphi District to schools in Mzimba and Chitipa Districts. Two new modules will cover conservation agriculture, and natural forest management, afforestation, reforestation and agroforestry, with the main aim of improving seedling and tree survival rates.
A Centre of Excellence for Conservation Education and Sustainable Development, based in Vwaza, will be built and equipped. This centre will also provide a welcome place for training to be carried out. A bus will be funded to facilitate connections to the Centre.
The whole conservation education programme will continue to be assessed annually, so that lessons are learned from work done and focus is on the most cost-effective use of resources.