We left Lilongwe early in the morning yesterday, to visit the second IBA we run the project. Communities surrounding the Ntchisi forest reserve. Ntchisi hold the only rainforest in Malawi, but the area has experienced hard pressure from the livelihoods nearby for years. Today the forest reserve is protected, and a group of local rangers patrol the forest on a daily basis. Locals communities are allowed to collect firewood from the forest, but only dry dead wood. Earlier poaching was a problem, but today it is not. Anyway, there aren’t many large mammals to hunt anymore.
Visiting a handful of communities today was great. Local leaders and village people greeted us warmly as elsewhere on out trip. Their efforts in planting trees for community forests were good, and they seemed to have a lot of focus on using the available resouces sustainably. The awareness of the importance of woodlands like the Nitchisi forest did also seem good.
We spent the night at the Ntchisi forest lodge. A beautiful place close to the border of the rainforest. The view from the lodge was spectacular, with Lake Malawi towards the east and the mountains of Mozambique making out the lake's background. Today we managed to do a three-hour hike in the area, spotting about 30 bird species. My personal highlights were a party of Cabanis's Bunting and the enchanting Crowned Horbills. The latter seemed to be quite common in the area. Judging by all the sounds in the forest, many birds were unfortunately not identified. I suppose a local bird guide would have been good to improve the species list. We also got great views of a dozen Blue (Diademed) Monkeys inside the rainforest – the first for the trip.
November 2018: Fieldwork in three IBA's in Nepal (EN)