from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
LILONGWE, (CAJ News) – SINCE lifting pandemic-related travel restrictions, Malawi has reported a six-fold uplift in interest from international volunteers seeking to support wildlife conservation efforts.
The trend, reported by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, confirms Malawi is becoming a rising destination for global travellers and wildlife enthusiasts.
This follows the Southern African country’s inclusion earlier this year in the Lonely Planet’s ‘Top 10’ places to visit in 2022.
“We are delighted to see growing interest in ‘voluntourism’ in Malawi since the borders reopened. Volunteers are absolutely critical to our work,” said Tom Mixer, Director of Operations at Lilongwe Wildlife Trust.
Restrictions were lifted recently.
Mixer said although the pandemic was devastating, it gave them time to invest in their operations and tailor their wildlife placements for the market.
The market seeks more sustainable and ethical ways of travelling.
“With Malawi listed in the top ten destinations to visit by Lonely Planet this year, we hope that international volunteers will continue to see Malawi as an exciting option,” Mixer said.
The majority of volunteers come from Europe and America.
“So, we are optimistic that – as confidence is rising in travellers- we will see more volunteers returning to support our efforts to save and protect wild animals in Malawi,” Mixer said.
Ccording to experts, although Africa’s tourism industry is taking longer to recover from the pandemic than other regions, demand for ecotourism and interactions with wildlife and nature is high amongst younger travellers.
Malawi has in recent years emerged a leader in conservation.
The government has introduced tough penalties for wildlife criminals and organisations.
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Malawi’s only wildlife sanctuary, experienced a 79 percent decline in voluntourism in 2020.
It resulted in a critical loss of labour to care for the animals under its protection.
The sanctuary supports around 200 animals on any given day, many of which have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.
– CAJ News