The 3,134 km2 Nyika National Park is one of the most beautiful montane plateaux in Central Africa and was established in 1965. It consists of high altitude grasslands, dambos (water-logged depressions) and miombo woodland. It is home to a diverse array of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and butterflies and an abundance of wildflowers, shrubs and trees, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. More than 430 bird species means it is a bird watcher's paradise.
This much-anticipated, 232-page guide gives an informative and fascinating explanation of the ecology, geology, climate, history and communities of Nyika. Exquisite photos and helpful descriptions show the vegetation, wildflowers, wildlife, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish and butterflies of the park, with full species lists. The guide is a convenient 13.5 x 21.5 cms and has fold-out covers for easy reference to maps and animal identification silhouettes.
The name, Nyika, means "where the water comes from", indicative of the plateau's importance as a source of water for north Malawi and Lake Malawi itself. Conservation of its plants and animals and whole ecosystem is crucial to the livelihood of villagers in northern Malawi. Any removal or change in vegetation Cover can make the landscape unstable. To the South West of the Nyika, lies the Vwaza Marsh, proclaimed a Wildlife Reserve in 1977. It is home to the widest variety of large mammal species in the country and a fascinating range of lowland bird species. Although protected by law, these are delicate ecosystems, vulnerable to the ravages of fire and neglect.
Author, Sigrid Johnson, has written this guide to be useful for students, researchers, visitors, wildlife tour guides, and all manner of flora and fauna enthusiasts. It also makes an enjoyable read for those with less specific interests. It is hoped it will be used in Malawi, by Malawians. Sigrid produced the original edition of the guide after living on the Nyika from 1986-8 and, when she recently retired from the Canadian Diplomatic Service, she undertook to produce this new guide. She and her husband, Don McMaster, renewed their acquaintance with the Nyika Plateau during a month-long visit in 2014.