The Luwire Wildlife Conservancy was awarded in 2000 as Niassa’s first private concession. It remains one of the most significant wilderness areas within the Niassa Special Reserve. It sits on the southeastern bank of the Lugenda River, covering an area of 1 million acres (450,000 hectares), and benefiting from 300km of river frontage. Nine caves have been discovered to date featuring paintings from historic indigenous tribes. Luwire is a prehistoric wilderness with incredible diversity by geography, flora and fauna – and includes miombo woodlands, granite inselbergs , open savannah, wetlands, river floodplains, and riverine forest. Wildlife in the concession include: Niassa wildebeest, Boehm’s zebra, Johnston’s impala, elephant, buffalo, serval, lion, leopard, hippopotamus, Niassa wildebeest, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, kudu, crocodile, sable antelope, eland, African wild dogs, duiker, warthog, baboon, hyena, common reedbuck, klipspringer, jackal and hundreds of bird species. Pel’s fishing owl, African Pitta, African skimmer and the Taita falcon feature prominently within this biodiversity.
Despite its size and importance, the Niassa Special Reserve is not as well-known nor supported as other more established African reserves and national parks. We are attracted by its iconic beauty and potential and are amongst the few who have stepped in to secure and nurture this wild place. Niassa represents perhaps the biggest conservation challenge in Africa today. It is a unique opportunity to make a difference at scale when scale is rapidly being lost across the African continent. The continued survival of mega species such as lion, elephant and wild dogs in their natural state is dependent upon scale. However, scale and remoteness bring challenges. The high cost of operations, heavy rains and seasonal access, human population growth, the value of resources such as timber, bush meat, ivory and minerals to criminal syndicates and the low importance previously accorded by Government are all significant stumbling blocks. Our initial dream of a self-sustaining conservation initiative continues to require a hefty subsidy. However, we remain focused on the single goal that if defended successfully, true wilderness is priceless.