OUR STORY

Following a devastating civil war in Mozambique that ran from 1972 to 1994, Niassa Reserve once again became an important area of biodiversity that needed protection. As a result, in 2000 Niassa started to be managed through a public-private partnership entity, the Sociedade para a Gestão e Desenvolvimento da Reserva do Niassa (SGDRN).

When the first concessions were made available, Saudi Sheik Adel Aujan bid for the first area and was awarded the tender. So began the story of Lugenda Wildlife Conservancy (Luwire), Block L7 within the Niassa Reserve. It was the first concession in the reserve to be allocated to and then funded by a private investor.

Since then, Luwire has operated as a responsible trophy hunting concession. A luxury photographic tourism lodge, Lugenda Wilderness Camp, was built in 2006.

Our strategic aim is to be a resilient conservancy that transforms communities and promotes natural resources. We believe that our key drivers of success include: security, transparent, professional governance, sustainable economy, and infrastructure. Our team is mostly comprised of Mozambican nationals; and many of our scouts were born and raised in Niassa. They risk their lives every day to protect our free-roaming wildlife and keep our concession safe and secure for future generations of Mozambicans.

Sheik Aujan – our Honorary Chairman – sadly passed away in January 2017; and in honour of our founder, we are committed to maintaining his vision for future generations in northern Mozambique. His son, Abdulla Aujan carries on our founding legacy as a 2nd generation concessionaire. All of us at Luwire Wilderness aim to honour his legacy by continuing to ensure the safety and security of the biodiversity of Luwire Wilderness.

OUR TEAM

The initial team started with our founding philanthropist, Sheikh Adel Aujan and Derek Littleton, our current Director of Conservation and Law Enforcement. To date 30% of our original ranger and scout teams still remain with Luwire.

Paul Buckley – Chairman

Paul Buckley is an ardent conservationist and volunteers his time as Chairman of the Luwire Wildlife Conservancy. He also sits on the Board  of the African conservation NGO Space for Giants. He is well travelled across Africa with notable adventures across Northern Kenya, Southern Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Africa and Mozambique. Paul’s main commercial interest is a business he founded in 2006  – First Avenue Partners LLP, a leading global advisory and capital placement business focused on private funds and private companies. Paul is based in London and is married with four children.

Abdulla Aujan

Abdulla Aujan is the Executive Chairman of Aujan Group Holding and is the son of the late Adel Aujan who was the first foreign investor to acquire a concession in the Niassa province.  It was the year 2001 when Abdulla’s father acquired Block L7 to effectively help support wildlife and conservation efforts in Mozambique. 

After Adel’s passing in January 2017, Abdulla made it his personal goal to try and transform this concession into a secure and independent wild life conservation project working together with various stakeholders to achieve his father’s vision. 

Abdulla is based in Dubai and runs his family business which is a diversified holding company, active in a wide range of industries, including FMCG, Hospitality & Real Estate, and Packaging Materials.  Their partnership with worldwide brands like Coca Colam Ball Corp., The Minor Group and The Oberoi hotels is testament to their long term vision of sustainable growth in the markets they operate in.

Abdulla’s main objective is to transform Luwire wildlife Conservancy into an independent,  full-fledged donor based trust with long term, sustainable donor income sufficient to meet the trusts mission.  Abdulla brings continuation to the project being a second generation family member taking on this responsibility of making this project a success. 

John Nel – General Manager

John joined the team in 2018 as General Manager. He has a diversified background which includes farming and law. From an early age John was outdoors and interested in wildlife and after graduating at Stellenbosch University with degrees in agricultural management and finance and an MBA, he farmed with livestock for 20 years. During this time he qualified as an attorney and had a practice in Hermanus, South Africa. He specialised in arbitration and mediation and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Dispute Resolution. His interests include emergency medical treatment and rescue and he is a qualified Intermediate Life Support Rescue Medic. 

He has worked in Afghanistan as the Country Director of a Private Military Company, participated in a programme to train Afghanistan police in constitutional policing and was a team leader running an Ebola Treatment Unit in Liberia.

John has trained as a Field Guide with Eco Training and CC Africa (now &Beyond). His passion is wilderness trails where participants are at one with nature and their surroundings. He is excited to be part of a team which seeks to make a difference and seeks to preserve the Niassa Reserve in perpetuity as a unique African – indeed global – conservation asset.

Cynthia Nel – HR, Admin & Logistics

Cynthia joined Luwire in May 2018 and has a Degree in Business Administration and a National Diploma in Cost Accounting. Her career started as a Cost Accountant at 3 manufacturers, Pilkington Shatterprufe, Willard Batteries and Firestone Tyres, all based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She was married to a farmer for 22 years and worked with him to build up the family farm, before being widowed. Cynthia moved to Cape Town where she had her own business for 5 years, before working as Financial Manager for Inmarsat International.

Cynthia loves adventure and challenges, as illustrated by a stint in Liberia where she was the HR and Admin Manager at an Ebola treatment unit. The remoteness of Niassa and lack of infrastructure such as banking, roads, repair and maintenance facilities and reliable local suppliers provides many logistical challenges which Cynthia meets with her resourceful nature.  She loves wildlife and nature and the uncomplicated remoteness of Lugenda.

Nico van Rensburg – Field & Road Manager

As a teenager, Nic was interested in nature and hunting. Every July and December holidays was spent working as a student in the Kruger National park. He studied zoology and botany at Pretoria University.

Every July holiday was spent working with the Dr E. Young in the Veterinary Dept. of the Kruger National Park.

Nic has vast experience working as a biological technician. He was involved with numerous projects including animal counts in the Klaserie, Timbivati and Sabie Sand private game reserves. He was also involved with predator and plains game behaviour and dynamics in those areas. He assisted in the Kruger National Park sampling water from its rivers and taking soil samples through the entire reserve to establish soil associations.

He left Nature conservation in 1985 to run his own company doing government liaison work, assisting private companies to attain government approval for projects and imports. He later owned a small sawmill and mine, from where he developed a love of wood and trees.

Nic started with Luwire in 2009 and during his time has been key in opening and maintaining the 1 200km road network in Block L7. He loves people and is passionate in sharing his love of Niassa with the many guests who have had the privilege of being guided through Block L7 in Nic’s trusty old Landrover. He wants to keep Niassa as pristine and wild as possible.

Derek Littleton – Director and Manager Conservation and Law Enforcement

Derek is a Wildlife Manager and third generation Zimbabwean.  His early career began with National Parks and Wildlife Management.  After a brief gap during which he qualified from Gwebi Agricultural College, he spent the following ten years with the Wildlife Unit responsible for managing the game rich indigenous forests of Western Matabeleland.  As a parastatal they were required to generate their own income.  The result was the largest safari company in the country.  During this period he played a significant role in setting up the early Tcholotcho CAMPFIRE program.  This dealt with Human Wildlife Conflict and taught and gave rights to communal communities to manage and sustainably benefit from their wildlife resources.   He was also very active in the operations and successes of the unit’s anti-poaching teams.  Sadly the Rhino Wars ushered in a dark period where despite a hard fight, those rhino not lost had to be translocated to Intensive Protection Zones, depriving the forests of these iconic animals.  This experience has greatly influenced his approach and resolve in securing the remaining elephants of Niassa Reserve.

Further experience included game capture and time on the Zimbabwean Hunters and Guides Association examination team.

His friendship with Sheikh Adel – which lasted for 30 years – resulted in a move to private sector safari and anti-poaching, and finally to Mozambique and the incredible Niassa Reserve.  Despite having now been here for nearly 2 decades, he still cherishes the incredible privilege of being engaged in conservation on scale.  He has lived the Game Rangers dream of having arrived to a blank canvas, and of its conscientious development and protection.

The horrendous civil war had resulted in an almost complete skills vacuum in the bush which meant training his local team from scratch.  Luwire was the first block tendered and has benefited from 19 years of consistent care and management.  L7 is blessed with great diversity and beauty, and is as large as Mozambique’s famous Gorengosa Park, but largely owing to its remoteness and difficulty of access, does not have its international profile. 

Derek considers his work a vocation, and believes in practical and robustly Africa proof solutions for conservation, the 2 cornerstones of which are protection and real community engagement.  His only regret in life is that he has spent so much time apart from his 2 beautiful daughters from his first marriage.  He lives in the Reserve with his wife Paula.

Trustees:

  • Abdulla Aujan
  • Matt Rice
  • Paul Buckley
  • Derek Littleton
  • John Nel

Senior Management:

  • Derek Littleton
  • John Nel
  • Cynthia Nel
  • Nico van Rensburg