field study site - Nyika National Park


The Nyika National Park was Malawi's first national park and was established in 1965. It is the largest of Malawi's five national parks and now covers 3,000sq-km. It is one of central Africa's most beautiful montane plateaux.Nyika National Park (NNP) is Malawi's largest national park with an an area of 3200 km2, covering almost all of the Nyika Plateau and km2 ranging in altitude from 2440 m in the west to 2135 m in the east. NNP includes a unique montane ecosystem of grasslands and rainforest. The park's six vegetation communities (Brachystegia woodland, pine plantation, montane grassland, dambo, water and evergreen forest) provide a rich variety of habitations for a wide range of fauna and flora. The plateau's elevation creates a moist habitat that hosts a variety of orchids and wildlflowers throughout the year.

Draining the Nyika plateau the main perennial rivers are the North Rumphi, Chilinda (Rumphi), Runyina and North Rukuru. Originating from broad grass-covered dambos on the plateau, they have cut wide and deep valleys. There is only one natural lake on the plateau, Lake Kaulime near Chilinda, formed by a landslide which blocked one of the headwaters of the North Rukuru.

NNP is home to 100 species of mammal, including 21 species of “game” animals, and the highest density of leopards in Malawi. Famous for its large herds of roan antelope and eland, nowadays much reduced due to extensive poaching. NNP is also the site for a very rare bat Plerleirotes anchietae. 430 bird species have been recorded from the Nyika National Park of which around 60 are very rare.

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