- 1947: “Nyasaland Fauna Preservation Society” established (so WESM Malawi’s second oldest NGO)
- 1950’s and ‘60’s: Key role in establishing National Parks/Wildlife Reserves and tighter hunting controls.
- 1970’s and ’80’s: From Blantyre base, “Wildlife Clubs” in schools established, then WESM branches in Lilongwe first, then Mzuzu and Zomba
- 1990’s and since: Secretariat established, more branches, many more clubs, many projects
The Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM) was founded in 1947 as the Nyasaland Fauna Preservation Society in Blantyre. In the early days, the aim was to protect wildlife, especially the larger mammals. In the 1950’s and 60’s, WESM was active in proposing and helping to establish Malawi’s reserves and parks such as Lengwe, Majete, Mwabvi and Nyika. It also successfully campaigned for tighter hunting controls.
WESM is non-profit, Non-Governmental Organization legally registered in Malawi and affiliated to the Council for Non-Governmental Organizations in Malawi. WESM is also a member of international conservation organizations such as IUCN, Birdlife International, EEASA etc.
The Society has nine branches in Balaka, Blantyre, Dwangwa, Lilongwe, Monkey Bay, Mzuzu, Mulanje, Nkhata Bay and Zomba. The core work of each branch includes organizing and supporting school-based “Wildlife Clubs”, with the goal of enhancing environmental knowledge and involvement, and currently there are some 1500 Wildlife Clubs across Malawi.
Each branch is a local membership organisation with the membership including individuals, companies, institutions and wildlife clubs, wholly run and managed at the level of the branch, often by branch members on a voluntary basis. Branches organize regular talks and social events, publish informative newsletters and wildlife books, park guides and extension materials, organize special interest events, schedule wildlife walks during weekends and implements local conservation activities.
In 1992, the Society established a Secretariat with professional staff to relieve volunteer members of their work overload. The Secretariat initially focused on project development and implementation. Projects have included (for example) Community Based Natural Resources Management in areas surrounding protected areas and on customary land, to empower communities to manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner.