Munyamadzi, in the Eastern Province of Zambia, is one of four unfenced, privately-owned game reserves in the Lower Luangwa Valley – the southernmost part of the Great Rift Valley complex. The Reserve is 18,500 ha of mixed habitat with 20 km of riverfront onto the eastern bank of the iconic Luangwa River.
The Game Reserve was acquired by the current owners in 2008 and has been successfully managed as a wildlife conservation area since. At the beginning, wildlife populations were heavily depleted, having experienced high levels of poaching and extensive bush fires from adjacent local communities.
The reserve is now home to a diverse range of habitats and species including to the Big Four, the endemic Thornicroft giraffe, hyena, large numbers of bushbuck, kudu and impala, warthog, puku, common waterbuck, klipspringer, aardvark, serval, caracal and many more.
The birdlife is phenomenal with migratory carmine bee-eaters, the Angolan pitta and black storks passing through, Pel’s fishing owl, bat hawks, nesting southern ground hornbill, Lillian’s lovebirds, green pigeons and Narina trogons.
Munyamadzi Game Reserve runs a number of conservation programs based on:
- Natural resource conservation - Where the Increase in human populations and rural agriculture have led to habitat destruction or degradation (a.k.a human encroachment) and subsequently many wildlife populations have declined, the program incorporates anti-poaching scouts,
- Wildlife monitoring and research - The reserve has partnered with Lion Landscapes - an independent conservation linked to Oxford university, which has designed, provided en-situ training to anti-poaching scouts and implemented the programme since late 2016. The monitoring system was designed to be cost effective, using only ground-based methods implemented by local scouts and Munyamadzi management, and yet be based on the latest methods and provide accurate publishable data. This programme is especially interested in monitoring vulnerable or endangered species such as African wild dog, lions, and Southern Ground Hornbill. It is supervised by Lion Landscapes, and implemented by the reserve's ecologist Nicky, the general manager Thor and the anti-poaching scouts. More than half of the scouts are reformed poachers to utilise their knowledge of illegal activities and wildlife movements while providing them with a stable source of income so they don't revert back to poaching.
- Volunteer program - Which aims to provide those interested in conservation and research an opportunity to be involved in fieldwork as well as provide a platform for knowledge exchange on conservation, wildlife management and research.
- Rural development REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) Carbon offsets - The BioCarbon Partners managed and USAID-sponsored Community Forests Programme, protects over 200,000 ha of forest within the Luembe Chiefdom, including the entirety of Munyamadzi Game Reserve. Through the programme, the Luembe Chiefdom community received performance-based Conservation Fees of USD 63,000 in April 2017 which will fund community development projects such as boreholes for clean drinking water, assistance to schools and medical facilities. The Programme is currently undergoing REDD+ verification, after which time self-sustaining carbon offset sales will generate income for the community for the next 30 years.