This was really a great task as I learned so many things. The WHS which I chose for my task is Lake Malawi.
The first expert who I contacted in this task was Mr. Justin Kraus.
He is a director at the research station on the northern shores of Lake Malawi called the Maru Research Centre. There they conduct variety of Researches on the lake including the cichlids. Their mission is to promote knowledge of and conservation of cichlids in both Lake Malawi and Abroad.
I asked him the following set of questions.
1) What is your perspective towards this natural heritage site?
2) How can the evolution process be explained for Lake Malawi?
3) Why is endemism high for this particular lake?
4) What are the steps taken for the conservation of this lake?
5) What is the biological significance and hoe does it differ from other lakes?
6) According to you how can we, as human beings help in preserving this beautiful lake?
For the question no. 2 and 3 he gave me a research paper which gave me a decent overview. However for question no. 3 he gave me a short answer for rest of the questions he gave the following answers. The answers below are directly his words
“1. Its a great place. Unique and beautiful
3. Short answer is species evolved within the lake and have not escaped.
4. Lake Malawi National Park in the south of the lake is mostly just a paper park. Other than that, nothing.
5. It is the most biologically diverse lake on the planet. Its cichlids, nearly all of which are endemic constitute a large part of the cichlidae family.
6. Provide fishers with alternative employment. Develop a fish farming industry. Fund the government fisheries department. Improve tourism/awareness of the lake.“
It was great Interacting with him.
The contact details are:
The second expert I contacted was Ms. Vera Cheal.
She Co-owns and runs a commercial website The Africa guide. She has a really good collection of photographs clicked mainly by here in here. Born in Germany she moved to Kenya Africa and at age of 4 moved to Malawi where she spent most of her childhood.
She Came to England at the age of 17, spent a couple of years in college in Brighton and have been in UK on and off since then.
Her favourite pastime is Travel, favourite continent, if she had to choose would be Africa.
I asked her the following questions.
1) What is the main reason that attracts tourist?
2) What is the response of the tourist after the trip?
3) How are the climatic conditions?
4) How can we as human beings, help in the preserving this beautiful lake?
To which she answers,
“Malawi and the Lake Malawi attracts more of your backpacker, younger tourist many of which travel through the country on overland trips from South Africa to Kenya / or the other way. Or the younger independent, adventurous traveller who is on a budget and happy to use local transport and stay in cheaper places. There are also many people in Malawi doing volunteer work in education and health. The main attraction for travellers is the lake, and the younger people are attracted to Cape Maclear as it is a social place with many parties.
Most people I have met who visited Malawi have great things to say about the country, especially how friendly the people are. Some are a little taken back by the poverty.
The climatic conditions are good – generally there is the rainy and dry season. When it rains it can make some roads and areas impassable. The rains are heaviest Dec to February. The colder season is usually from May to end August and it gets very warm hot and humid October to December.
As you know Lake Malawi is a fresh water lake and it is perfect to swim in, that’s what attracts so many people to it. It is known for it rare Cichlids, unfortunately the numbers are being depleted and the local people fish all year round and sometimes in the fish breeding ground… hence not giving them time to breed. Sadly a lot of local people who live near the lake are hungry and rely on the fish to feed their families today! Hence, whilst they are educated about the fact that the lake is being over fished and in years to come there will be very few fish to eat, they live for today. “
She also gave me a link some of her photographs which were fabulous!
The third expert who I contacted was Mr Mark A. McGinley.
Dr. Mark A. McGinley is an Assistant Dean in the Honors College and Associate Professor in the Honors College and Department of Biological Sciences at Texas Tech University. He has conducted research in the evolutionary, behavioral, and community ecology of animals and plants. Dr. McGinley’s recent scholarly interests focus on educating the general public about scientific issues. Dr. McGinley is an Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopaedia of Earth.
Dr. McGinley earned a B.S. in Zoology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a M.S. from Kansas State University, a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, and a Post Doctoral Research Fellowship at University of Minnesota.
The questions asked and the answers (in his words) are as follow:
1) What is your perspective towards this natural heritage site?
“One of the main purposes of establishing this site was to preserve the lake’s unique aquatic environment. Lake Malawi contains more fish species than any other lake in the world and the adaptive radiation of cichlid fishes represents a biological example that rivals examples found in the Galapagos Islands. Thus, the lake represents a unique environment which I consider to be a “global treasure”.
Like all natural areas in developing countries it is important that establishing protected sites can help find a balance between conservation of species, habitats, and ecosystems and providing sustainable lifestyles for local people.”
2) According to you how can we, as human beings help in preserving this beautiful lake?
“Unfortunately, the fishes in Lake Malawi are at risk from a number of factors. Fish collected from Lake Malawi provides the majority of protein for many people in the region. Thus, as populations in the region have increased so have the demands for increase capture of fish from the lake. Because many people in the region are poor, they are much more worried about providing their immediate food needs than they are about long-term conservation of the lake’s fish communities. Today, local fishermen are in competition with large-scale commercial fisheries.
Obviously, the most important thing that we can do to help preserve this beautiful lake is to reduce the number of fish removed from the lake. Accomplishing this goal will require the implementation of family planning programs to reduce the rate of population increase, establishing economic development programs that reduce the reliance of local people on fishing, and increased education about the value of preserving the lake as a potential source of income from tourism and a sustainable source of food for future generations. Because the countries surrounding Lake Malawi are quite poor, the effective use of financial resources and expertise from wealthier countries will probably be required. Thus, one of the most important things that we can do is to spread the word about this unique world resource.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Maybe someday you will be able to visit Lake Malawi and take a selfie there. Keep up your good work spreading the news about the importance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.”
This brief conversation turned out to be very informative. He was also interested to know more about GoUNESCO and what does it do for our heritage. He is working closely with students in an interdisciplinary degree program in Environment and humanities at the honors College of Texas Tech. University.