Projects Abroad | Human Rights & Law

Malawi: Wildlife Justice Legal Internship

Lilongwe, Malawi


Location: Lilongwe, Malawi

Duration: Minimum 3 months commitment

Start Dates: Ongoing; placements start each Tuesday

Cost: from £1,360 GBP

Includes: all accommodation, lunch, airport pickup, orientation and all project related activities

Does not Include: Flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations


  • Gain hands-on experience working on monitoring and prosecuting wildlife crime issues in Malawi
  • Ideal for interns with an interest in legal issues relating to wildlife crime in Africa
  • Keywords: court monitoring, Public/private prosecutions, Analysing courtroom monitoring data, Drafting submission templates, Designing standardised court procedures, Identifying risks of case failure, Attending workshops, Legal research, Policy and advocacy

Please note: this project is now fully booked for 2019, however we are now accepting applications for 2020

Costs Explained


Malawi has many amazing things to offer, such as very friendly people, amazing scenery and beautiful flora and fauna, however it is also unfortunately a place of great poverty, deforestation, wildlife crime and a degrading environment. This project was set up in 2008 as the only wildlife sanctuary, and has evolved into Malawi’s leading charity, addressing both issues of social welfare and environmental conservation. The project is a member of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), Malawi’s representative for the Species Survival Network and a founding member of the Malawi chapter of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation.

We are a registered Malawian NGO founded in 2009. We accept interns and volunteers from all nationalities to help us achieve our goals, learn from our experts in the field and share your knowledge and skills. We have had previous participants become permanent members of our team, so who knows where your placement will lead!

We work across four areas: wildlife rescue and welfare, wildlife law enforcement, education and advocacy and research. Our work to combat wildlife crime involves drafting wildlife policy and law and supporting the government to strengthen their response to wildlife crime across the whole enforcement chain.

Illegal wildlife trade is now the fourth largest transnational crime in the world – alongside guns, humans and drugs. Malawi was recently confirmed as Southern Africa’s principal transit hub for illegal wildlife products – a key link in a chain of poaching, trafficking and demand that is threatening some of Africa’s most iconic species with extinction. Up until recently, organised crime syndicates could operate with relative impunity within the country’s borders.

In Malawi over 50% of elephants have been lost in the last 25 years, and Kasungu National Park now supports around 50 elephants, down from approximately 2,000 in the late 1980s. Some of the world’s biggest ivory seizures have been linked back to Malawi – including one of 2.6 tonnes in 2013 – which is positioned centrally in a regional poaching hotspot. Illegal trades in bushmeat, charcoal, wildlife artefacts and pets are also locally prevalent and are becoming increasingly commercialised.

We have co-authored the country’s Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Review in May 2015, which outlined the drivers and extent of IWT in Malawi and made a series of recommendations to strengthen the criminal justice system. These recommendations included supporting the Malawi government to set up the first specialised wildlife crime investigations and intelligence units and establishing the Wildlife Justice Programme.

Daily Life

Malawi’s Wildlife Justice Programme is a partnership between us and the Malawian government, with the aim of strengthening wildlife crime court outcomes. The programme introduced court monitoring and public/private prosecutions of the most serious wildlife crimes.

Court monitoring

Court monitors observe proceedings and outcomes.

  • Pre-trial meetings organised with investigators
    and prosecutors
  • Supporting prosecutors with charging
  • Taking notes and reporting court outcomes
Public/private prosecutions

Private counsel prosecutes cases alongside the State.

  • Pre-trial meetings with investigators and prosecutors
  • Collaborative prosecution with the State
  • Focus on the most serious cases

For every case monitored and/or prosecuted, the court monitor gathers standardised data about court proceedings and outcomes and produces a full trial report.

Since the introduction of the above programmes, the average sentence for wildlife crime rose from 1.5 years in 2016 (0 in 2008-2015) to 3.6 years in 2017 and 91% of court-monitored or public-private prosecution cases resulted in a custodial sentence.

Work will be varied and dependent on the particular project requirements at the time. Only Malawian lawyers and court monitors are allowed in the courtroom, however you can expect to be involved in the following:

  • Analysing courtroom monitoring data
  • Drafting submission templates
  • Designing standardised court procedures
  • Identifying risks of case failure
  • Attending workshops
  • Legal research
  • Policy and advocacy

During your down time, there will also be the opportunity to work on wildlife campaigns, community outreach and education programmes and to get involved in animal care and rehabilitation at the Wildlife Centre

Book with Confidence

Travel & Accommodation

The project is located in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, and is a 30 minute drive from the Lilongwe Kamuzu International Airport (airport code: LLW). You will be met at the airport by a project representative.

Accommodation is at either the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre or on the staff compound in Lilongwe’s Area 9

The Wildlife Centre

Accommodation is right in the middle of the sanctuary and you will be surrounded by animals, so you’ll wake up to monkeys and baboons playing outside your bedroom window! The 200 hectare wilderness reserve includes a river, woods and 4 km of walking/running trails, meaning you can experience the wild side of Africa and yet you are still close enough to the city to enjoy some of the benefits of civilisation. There are the following two options:

Main house

The main house has basic mixed dorm-style accommodation sleeping 10 with electricity, a kitchen, lounge area, bathroom and hot showers. We also have an attractive garden area for relaxing in the evenings and on your day off. We employ a cleaner too so you don’t have to worry about washing your sheets on your day off.

There’s also a two-bed and a four-bed chalet, both en-suite, situated next to the volunteer house.

Staff Compound

The staff compound comprises four two-bed flats in a secure compound in Lilongwe’s Area 9, close to the head office, as well as supermarkets, restaurants and bars. The compound has a large garden and parking area.


All food is included in the price of the internship. Meals at the Wildlife Centre and head office are vegetarian and are provided by an on-site chef. Unlimited drinking water, tea and coffee is also available. Interns staying on the staff compound will receive a food allowance to buy their own food.

Working hours

Working hours are generally Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm

Fundraising Help


  • Minimum age 18.
  • Minimum 3 months commitment.
  • Relevant legal background and/or be currently enrolled in a legal training course
  • Basic English language skills.
  • Necessary vaccinations – we require a negative TB test and rabies vaccinations are strongly advised if you wish to also volunteer at the wildlife centre in your spare time
  • Necessary flight & visas.
  • Full travel & medical insurance – full assistance provided in arranging everything you will need if you choose our Premium Support
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3 months 4 months 5 months 6 months 7 months
£3,460 £4,510 £5,560 £6,610 £7,660
8 months 9 months 10 months 11 months 12 months
£8,710 £9,760 £10,810 £11,860 £12,910

* Currency is in GBP, check for other currency conversions
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee
*** Places are confirmed with a 15% deposit. Balance is due 2 months prior to your arrival

What’s Included:

Project Fee includes

  • Accommodation
  • Lunch when at work (5 days a week) is included. You will need to cover the cost of your other meals, however it is very affordable!
  • Airport Transfers and all work related transport
  • WiFi, T-shirt and local SIM card (please bring an unlocked phone)
  • Training in all relevant departments, plus full support from the Volunteer Coordinator during your stay.
What’s not included:
  • Flights
  • Vaccinations, travel and medical insurance (we require a negative TB test and strongly recommend rabies vaccinations)
  • Visa ($75 single entry 30 day visa, plus extensions every 30 days = $10)
  • Additional excursion, nights out, souvenirs and personal expenses such as soft drinks, beers, snacks.

All placements start and end on a Tuesday. It is possible to arrive or leave on a different day, but there is an extra £30 airport transfer fee, and you may miss out on some of the useful inductions.

Most nationalities are required to obtain a $75 visitor’s permit valid for 30 days, with the option to extend for additional 30 days at roughly $10 up to a maximum of 90 days. Check with us when applying

The 2 bed private chalet is a supplement of £20/$26 per night for 1 or 2 people. Or you can opt to share the chalet with one other person for £12/$15 per night. The 4 bed chalet can be made available for groups of 3 or 4 people at £12/$15 per person per night.

We recommend bringing out a little extra to spend on drinks, meals out and souvenirs. £30 a week should more than cover these, depending on your lifestyle. As an idea of costs for extra trips, you will need about £65-£125 if you want to take a trip to Lake Malawi, dependent on accommodation and activities. A 3 day safari to Zambia would be around £450.

All of the money raised through our volunteer programme, after costs, goes directly into the Wildlife Centre and its associated projects – without you the Wildlife Centre would not be able to continue to operate! Your donation means that we can continue to take in animals, feed and provide the essential medical care that they need, and pay local wages.

Premium Support Upgrade

We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.

We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

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Past Participants Say

Stephanie Rumore
Stephanie Rumore
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"My time internting in Lilongwe has been one of the most incredible experiences of my legal career. As a final year law student, I was hoping to gain invaluable practical experience, challenge my legal skill-set and experience foreign law in action. This internship exceeded each and every expectation I had. In my first week at LWT I spent a lot ...
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