Children in the Wilderness Eco-Club members participated in a bird-counting exercise in Liwonde National Park with Dr Tiwonge Mzumara-Gawa, a volunteer Conservation and Research Officer for the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM), the national partner of BirdLife in Malawi.
Tiwonge has been honoured with the International Young Conservationist Award for her inspiring work in assessing threatened species and Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Malawi. The Lilian’s lovebird Agapornis lilianae is a Near Threatened bird species occurring in central southern Africa, including Malawi. It occurs in large flocks and is associated with montane woodlands where they feed and roost. In Malawi, the species is mainly known from Liwonde National Park, where about 1 000 individuals have been estimated. Hunting is one of the main threats facing Lilian’s lovebirds.
In early November 2019, Tiwonge, with ground support from African Parks, organised a Lillian’s lovebird counting exercise in Liwonde National Park. Tiwonge has known the CITW Eco-Clubs since 2011, from her research trips to Liwonde. This time she requested Eco-Club assistance in the counting exercise. Another reason for involving the CITW children was to advance their education in wildlife, and naturally birds. Tiwonge believes in the potential of the CITW children, and that the majority of them, will undoubtedly become conservationists and achievers of Eco-culture around the parks of Malawi.
Twenty Eco-Club members from Nanthomba Primary School were selected based on their obvious passion for birds. Before the exercise, children underwent a short orientation session which also included a lesson on “Parrots and their ecological importance in the Liwonde National Park ecosystem”. The children also learn about handling binoculars and working with count sheets.
Report by Symon Chibaka, Children in the Wilderness Malawi Programme Coordinator.