sleeping chameleon
The Forest and its Wildlife
The Estate was first occupied by Mr. E.H. Snowden during the Great War of 1914-1918. It was then taken over by Mr. Wenham, the District Commissioner for Fort Johnston until the estate was acquired in 1922 by the renowned entomologist Dr William Lamborn, who was at that time, the Colonial Government’s medical entomologist.

At about the same time the forested mountain range of Namizimu, predominately Brachystegia forest, but including a few small areas of montain rainforest was designated as one of Nyasaland’s Forest Reserves.

Namizimu Forest Reserve Facts
Location: 35° E, 14°S
Area: 86,994 ha
Altitude: 500 - 1,800m

Ecological Work: Past & Future
Material pertaining to Namizimu is scattered about in collections and institutions across the globe. We are beginning to bring together as much of the ecological knowledge and recordings conducted over the last 60 years. We welcome amateur and professional experts who are interested in working on any area of Namizimu’s biodiversity and helping to identify our conservation priorities.

Endemic Butterflies & Insects
Dr. Lamborn was the first to discover a new species endemic to Namizimu, the butterfly (Cooksonia aliciae) which he named after his wife. Since then Namizimu has gained a reputation for unusual species and has been visited by many biologists and collectors from around the world. Another butterfly, Lepidochrysops auratus is also cited as endemic to the area.

All the “Big 5” used to occupy Namizimu Forest but the last reports of rhino were in 1992/93, which were sadly the last observations of native Malawi rhinos in their home environment. Since then rhino have been imported into Liwonde where it is hoped that the poaching pressure can be controlled better than elsewhere.

Seasonally, elephants pass through Namizimu on their return to Liwonde, usually one or two farmers lose their maize crop every year as they pass through within a mile or so. The have come by our main house in years gone by. Within the last 12 months both lion and leopard have been spotted locally, meaning that there are perhaps more big cats here than many credit. The diaries of D Arnall talk of losing many a guard dog to leopard, with them being taken off the khonde and even from within the house itself! So in one sense it is a little more relaxing in Namizimu than it was in those pioneering days.

As yet, there is no comprehensive species list for the entire 1000 square km forested reserve, but Birdlife International which has designated it an “Important Bird Area” reckons over 200 species, including a couple of rare endemics. Birdlife International’s website has collated a useful sub-list of the known species which it considers under threat.

We are lucky to have several splendid species breeding in our garden- including Livingstone’s Turaco, Narina Trogon, several sunbird species, several woodland kingfishers. Weavers, Batsis and Nightjars.

Common visitors to the garden include Hornbills, bee-eaters, rollers and paradise flycatchers. Giant Eagle Owls can be seen on the cliff behind the main house alongside the smaller owl species also to be spied in the garden.

The forest is in great need of botanical work, several of the orchids that can be found growing on the massive granite boulders appear as yet undescribed.
Cooksonia aliciae Butterfly
Sleeping chameleon in the plateau toilet. Cooksonia aliciae.
First recorded specimen reared in 1928 by Dr Lamborn.
Photo courtesy of Julian Bayliss
Forest mushroom Flowering wild ginger
Mushroom hunting - and eating - is available in the rainy season, this one is not to be eaten! Wild ginger lines the paths throughout the rainy season.
Golden Orb spider Orchid by the forest track
Golden Orb Spider. Habernaria orchid in the garden.
Caterpillars Eulophia Livinstoniana
Caterpillars. Eulophia Livinstoniana photographed in our forest garden.

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