MAJETE WILDLIFE RESERVE
Infrastructure maintenance and repairs were a key focus of the reserve team. Measures were implemented to increase revenue from micro-projects for local communities and new tourism marketing efforts were designed to drive visitor enquiries and bookings.
A lengthy list of repair and maintenance work was carried out in Majete during the second quarter. It included: the replacement of poles and strainwire to the perimeter fence; the servicing of borehole pumps; work at the research camp and at Thawale; the filling of potholes, the slashing of roads ahead of fire management and installation and repairs to roads damaged by floods in the first quarter.
Majete also facilitated a visit by consultants from the Ministry of Natural Resources Energy and Mining who are conducting a feasibility study into further hydropower generation on the Shire River and at the Mpatamanga Rapids area in the north of the reserve.
Wildlife and Biodiversity.
A total of 155 rhino tracking patrols took place and all of the reserve's rhinos were accounted for. The remains of an elephant bull were discovered in the Twiti-Chimwale area in an advanced state of decomposition. Both tusks were intact and were recovered. Poaching was ruled out as the cause of death which is believed to have been the result of a lagging injury.
The first group of Earthwatch volunteers was hosted by the research team and assisted with a range of monitoring and research activities including waterhole counts, transect counts and pit trap surveys. The contribution costs by the volunteers are used to support the reserve's research efforts.
A total of 593 long and short patrols were conducted during the quarter as well as three special anti-poaching investigations. They resulted in 12 arrests, eight for illegal fishing below the Kapichira Dam wall, and four for the illegal possession of muzzle-loading guns. In addition to the muzzle loaders, six gin traps, two wire snares, four fishing nets and an axe were confiscated.
Majete's educational outreach series and on-site conservation educational visits continued to be a key feature of its community engagement programme. Conservation and environmental meetings were held at the wildlife clubs of 13 schools reaching 359 students while 163 students from seven local schools visited the reserve to experience first- hand its wildlife offerings and the benefits of using land for conservation.
Twenty village sensitisation meetings were conducted by the Majete team, attended by close to 1,000 local community members. Topics discussed included the negative impact of poaching, uncontrolled bush fires, the wanton removal of trees, as well as fence vandalism.
Community based organisations (CBOs) continued to generate income through the sale of Molinga powder, used to combat malnutrition, as well as through the sale of arts, crafts and honey sold at the Heritage Visitors' Centre. As part of the Vale Project initiative, 50 bee hives were purchased and distributed to two groups of beekeepers in order to improve their beekeeping and honey production capacities.
A total of US$3,005 was generated from the 145 guests who stayed at Majete's community-run campsite during the quarter.
Income from tourism totaled US$87 152 (on a par with the same quarter last year. The number of visitors ended on 2,105 compared to 2,020 during the same three months last year. Thawale achieved an average occupancy of 32 percent for the period.
A series of marketing initiatives were implemented to boost enquiries and bookings to Majete. They included: The erection of a new billboard on the main road outside Blantyre, the development of a new tourist map that was sold at the visitors' centre and the publication of a major feature on Majete in the Kenya Airways inflight magazine. In addition, Majete received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor for consistently good reviews on Thawale Lodge.