In June 2021, WESM together with Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), World Parrot Trust and Mulanje Outdoor Adventures set 60 artificial box nests in Liwonde National Park to see if the cavity dwelling species will take up and reside in these boxes.
Mopane woodlands (Tsanya) are becoming more threatened as it is the most preferred wood for timber and charcoal.
Mopane is one of the few trees in the southern Africa that form natural cavities as it matures and it is continuously disappearing outside the protected areas. This makes cavity dwelling species such as Lilian lovebirds to be restricted in protected areas. This is why the team thought of putting next boxes as artificial cavities for these species.
After seven months, in February 2022, the team went to Liwonde National Park to monitor the artificial nest boxes. The monitoring took 5 days and 48 artificial nest boxes were monitored and 12 boxes were not monitored because one site containing 10 boxes was not accessible due to heavy rains, one box was not seen and the other box was in the middle of the flooded area which made it difficult to climb.
As expected that it will take years to have valuable information, the majority of the boxes were empty and few of them had mopane leaves, barks, 2 boxes from same site had squirrels and one box looked like a snake hide.
The observation was exciting to find that there are species that are residing in the boxes. In few months to come, camera traps will be set in boxes with mopane leaves and barks to see the activities and species that are residing in these boxes.