The first formal protection of the Nyika Plateau in Malawi was the proclamation of a Forest Reserve in 1948 to protect the southernmost population of juniper Juniperus procera trees in Africa. In 1951 the grasslands of the high plateau were protected under the Natural Resources Rules and hunting was prohibited. In the 1950’s the Colonial Development Corporation established a plantation of 542ha of pines, blue gums and wattle at Chelinda. The plantations were handed over to the Department of Forestry in 1958. In 1965 (after independence) the Malawi National Park, covering an area of 940km2 of the Nyika Plateau, was proclaimed as Malawi’s first national park. The name was changed to Nyika National Park in 1969. In 1978 the park was considerably enlarged to its present size of 3,134km2 by including the foothills lying south and north of the high plateau. This expansion was due to the critical role of the Nyika Plateau as a water catchment area on which much of northern Malawi depends for domestic consumption, irrigation and hydro-electric power generation. The expansion of the park boundaries also took account of the winter migration of large mammals, particularly roan antelope, eland and zebra, from the plateau to the adjacent woodlands and their return to the grasslands in the spring (refer Map 3).
The Kazuni Lake Game Reserve was proclaimed in 1941 and included the lake as well as all land within a radius of 5 miles (8km) around it. The legislation of that time prohibited hunting, but not settlement. In 1956 the Vwaza Marsh Controlled Area was proclaimed. This included the marsh and an area around it in which hunting was restricted to residents of the area and special licence holders. No restriction was placed on settlement. In 1963 the traditional authority under Chief Katumbi requested the development of the area for tourism. The Chief’s request led to the proclamation of Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve on 10 April 1977. All game reserves were later changed to wildlife reserves (refer Map 4).
The Lundazi Protected Forest Area was proclaimed in 1938, under Colonial legislation. Its purpose was to protect the escarpment woodlands east of the Luangwa Valley, along the international border, and the important water catchment on the western side of the Nyika plateau which gives rise to the Chire/Luwumba River. Lundazi is designated as National Forest No.24. In 1972 the northern sector of the Lundazi Forest Reserve that extended from the Chire or Luwumba Valley up the escarpment on to the Nyika Plateau was proclaimed as Nyika National Park (National Park No.12). It was described as being 80km2 in extent. The Mikuti Forest Reserve is also a protected area of long standing, having been proclaimed as Protected Forest Area No.33 and is now also a National Forest. The Mitengi was proclaimed as Protected Forest Area No.295.
The Musalangu GMA was earlier known as the Senga Controlled Hunting and is situated in the Eastern and Western Provinces of Zambia respectively.
North Luangwa National Park was founded as a game reserve in 1938, and became a national park in 1972. Initially the wildlife suffered greatly from poaching, but recent years have seen poaching almost entirely stopped. It has generally suffered from a lack of investment and interest compared to the much more popular South Luangwa National Park, although its flora and fauna are very similar to its southern counterpart.The Luangwa Valley was seen as the stronghold of the black rhino in Zambia in the 1960s. It was estimatedthat NLNP was a refuge for between 500 – 2,000 animalsbefore the onset of the poaching wave in the 1970s and 1980s. The Park was designated as a wilderness area and few wildlife scouts were stationed around the Park or entered it to carry out patrols during that time. This meant that its wildlife populationswere particularly vulnerable to poaching and the last confirmed sighting of a black rhino in North Luangwa was in the mid‐1980s.In 2003, black rhinoceroses were re-introduced to the park, making this the only large Big 5 Park in Zambia (refer Map 6).