The last area in our project (Ntchisi and Dzalaynyama arethe two others) is the IBA Kasungu National Park. Wednesday 22nd. was used for travel and a few community visits.
Kasungu is famous for its Elephants, and the population in Kasungu counted about 2000 animals 20 years ago. Poaching has decimated the numbers a lot, and now there are only about 70 left. Poaching is still a major issue in Kasungu, both from the Malawian and Zambian side of the border.
One of the communities had previously been bothered by Elephants. Elephants were both a nuisance for people’s crops, but were also a hazard to the people themselves. This community lives on the border of the park, but has been innovative in their work to lessen the Elephant issue. By mounting bee-hives in the trees every tenth meter along the park-border, combined with a thick wire between them, thay actually managed to “stop” the large mammals from entering their village. Elephans are not very fond of bees, and avoid them as far as possible. When an Elephant walks into the line, the bee-hives will be disturbed. The bees wil fly out and find the intruder. Elephants then pull back, and return to the reserve.
This community produce quite a bit of honey because of this effort, making them able to earn some money. The area covered with hives and metal lines was a few kilometers, but the leader of the community hoped for assistance to prolong this to cover a larger area.
Just before sunset we arrived at the nights’ accommodation, the Lifupa forest lodge inside the National park. A fantastic place close to a dammed part of the river passing by. A handful Hippos were bathing on the shore, and hundreds of Swallows and Swifts were feeding above the surface. The soundscape during the night was totally awesome, and there were a dozen nice moths to look at as well.
Before the sun broke the following morning we went for a hike around the lake to do some birdwatching. Joined by an armed forest ranger we had a veru nice walk. It was actually the best hours of birdwatching on my Malawi trip. More than 30 new bird species for the trip was registered, with Dickinson's Kestrel, Levaillant's Cuckoo, Purple-crested Turaco and Amethyst Sunbird as the highlights.
During the day we did some more community visits before heading back to Lilongwe. In the evening we had a great goodbye-dinner at a Chinese restaurant downtown. Tomorrow I am off to Norway after a visit to the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Can’t wait to visit Malawi again.