MALAWI – Chief Thomas Tidwell joined a diverse team of specialists from the USDA Forest Service on a technical mission to Malawi from November 11 to 18. The mission was part of an ongoing partnership between the Forest Service and African Parks at Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, the oldest and largest wildlife reserve in Malawi.
The team contributed to a range of activities, including the design and installation of a wildlife and habitat monitoring program that includes over 200 camera traps distributed across the 180,000 hectare reserve; development of interpretation materials; archaeological research into the rich human history of the Nkhotakota landscape; and research into the condition of the increasingly threatened Lake Salmon (Opsaridium microlepis), an endemic species and important source of protein for local populations.
"The technical mission included seven Forest Service specialists: Damon Lesmeister, research wildlife biologist and team leader, Pacific Northwest Research Station; Raymond Davis, monitoring lead for older forests & spotted owls, Region 6; Zachary Ruff, ORISE student fellow and research assistant, Pacific Northwest Research Station; Brooke Penaluna, research fish biologist, Pacific Northwest Research Station; Kelly Ortiz, forest landscape architect, Rio Grande National Forest; Matt Philipps, forest landscape architect, Sawtooth National Recreation Area; and Jeff Walker, retired cultural heritage lead, Region 4.
African Parks is a non-governmental conservation organization that manages national parks and protected areas in nine countries throughout Africa. The partnership with them has offered a unique opportunity to demonstrate the depth, breadth and versatility of Forest Service expertise in protected areas management. Chief Tidwell contributed invaluable insight and guidance on how to grow this collaboration further, not only in Malawi but across the wide and growing footprint of African Parks in Africa.
This opportunity was made possible with funding from and in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development in Malawi.