|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
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
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.