Why We Exist
Our mission is to help save the biodiversity of the Niassa Reserve, a sacred and prehistoric African wilderness. The third largest protected area in Africa, located in northern Mozambique. The Niassa Reserve holds the largest and most viable elephant population in Mozambique, together with jurassic geographical, physical, and faunal diversity.
Niassa Wilderness, the name of our concession in the Niassa Reserve is Block L7 on the South Eastern Bank of the Lugenda River, covering an area of 1 million acres (450,000 Ha). Our project was awarded in 2000, the first concession in the Reserve. We are proud of our contribution to the success of the Niassa Reserve over the last 17 years. We have recently pivoted into a private donor-funded nonprofit trust, combating illegal wildlife trade for the preservation of free-roaming elephants, wild dogs, lions, and local endemic species (Niassa wildebeest, Boehm’s zebra, and Johnston’s impala).
More recently, with the dramatic increase in co-ordinated elephant poaching due to the demand in ivory. We decided in late 2015 to direct all our efforts to anti-poaching and law enforcement, in order to combat this illegal wildlife trade and help to preserve this sacred place.
We believe that by centrally linking communities in these efforts, jointly we can help to secure our concession (Block L7), thereby helping to ensure the safety and security of the whole of the Niassa Reserve.
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 Reserve (Luwire), Block L7 within the Niassa Reserve. It was the first concession in the reserve to be allocated 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 as part of the strategy to ultimately replace consumptive safaris with photographic tourism. Unfortunately the remoteness, logistics, and viability as the sole photographic offering in the Niassa Reserve, meant there was no commercial viability to continue with this original plan. In addition, based on the generous philanthropic beliefs of Sheikh Aujan, Luwire had to be subsidised each year in order to keep operating. Change needed to take place.
With our founder’s blessing and his gift to Mozambique and its people, in 2016 Luwire, now under its new name Niassa Wilderness, started the transition from a commercial hunting operation to a not for profit trust, under new stewardship. As part of this change, Lugenda Wilderness Camp closed at the end of 2015 in order to focus on anti-poaching efforts.
A new Board of Directors who volunteer their time are undertaking a strategic shift to replace hunting dollars with donor funding. Sadly, halfway through this three-year transition process, Sheik Aujan our Honorary Chairman unexpectedly passed away in early 2017. All of us at Niassa Wilderness aim to honor his legacy by continuing to ensure the safety and security of the biodiversity of Niassa Wilderness.
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 Niassa Wilderness.
Board of Directors
Non Executives: Abdulla Aujan, Dave Anderson, Gavin Courtenay, Greg Reis
Executives: Derek Littleton – Director of Conservation and Law Enforcement
Fred Stow – General Manager
Stephanie Jowers – Development Strategist
Jose Ernesto – Head Scout
Gift Katebede – People Effectiveness & Logistics Manager
Brian Johnson – Safari Manager
Nic van Rensburg – Field & Road Management