GD Hayes

Founding conservationist in Malawi

GD Hayes - Wildlife & Enviromental Society of Malawi (WESM)

GD Hayes was one of the founding members of Wildlife & Enviromental Society of Malawi (WESM) in 1947 (then the Nyasaland Fauna Preservation Society)and was instrumental in bringing the desperate need for protected wildlife reserves to the attantion of the authorities over many years. The importance of enthusiastic conservationalists like GD Hayes (and the society) in early conservation efforts in Malawi, cannot be overstated. It has been acknowledging that without WESM’s involvement over the years, there would very likely be no Majete Wildlife Reserve today.


GD Hayes was honoured in 2017 at a naming ceremony in Majete Game Reserve by WESM and African Parks with the naming of a link road in his honour.

GD Hayes was one of the five persons who met in 1947 and decided to form the Nyasaland Fauna Preservation Society (NFPS) which is now WESM. The early focus of the Society was lobbying government to set aside areas for Game Reserves and one of its successes was the gazetting of Majete in 1955. GD had camped on many occasions in the Phwadzi area and had constructed a sub-surface dam to provide water for the game in the dry season and also a viewing platform. In those days the area was full of game and his diaries record waterbuck, bushbuck, zebra, eland, kudu, sable, duiker, warthog, lion, buffalo, leopard and hyaena. On one occasion, he casually noted ‘a pack of wild dogs playing around.’ As without GD’s determination the Majete Wildlife Reserve would probably not exist, African Parks has kindly agreed that one of the link roads can be named after him. (Courtesy: WESM Newsletter)

Courtesy: WESM

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Obituary for GD Hayes

Col. Leofric Boyle, ffPS Vice-President and formerly Hon. Secretary writes: (Oryx - October 1981)

We have heard, with sorrow, of the death of one of our senior members and most effective collaborators, G.D. Hayes of Malawi, who joined FPS in 1945. G. D. died suddenly on 23rd October 1981. Only a fortnight before he had been supervising the annual game count in the Lengwe National Park, and thoroughly enjoying it. He leaves a widow Francis and their son.

G.D. and his wife spent their working lives in Malawi where they ran a private business, but where G.D. was also always in the forefront in the field of wildlife conservation. For many years he was secretary of the Malawi (then Nyasaland) Fauna Preservation Society, and later became its Chairman.

Early in 1953 we find him at Mjeti Hill in south Malawi, working to improve the water supply for the numerous animals of that barren area, which had earlier been declared a non-shooting area through the joint efforts of our two societies. Later in the same year he is in London discussing plans and arranging for the British FPS to pay the wages of a game guard for the Mjeti.

Perhaps however it is with the Lengwe and its nyala antelopes that his name will be most closely associated, and here again co-operation between the two societies ensured that a new road ran round not through this sanctuary.

But all G.D.'s activity might have been in vain had he not foreseen the political changes, so that, following his natural inclinations, he was able to gain the confidence of the new political leaders. Thus he succeeded not only in arousing or confirming their interest in Malawi's wildlife but sometimes in obtaining improvements in favour of wild animals which the colonial power might have found it impossible or impolitic to introduce.

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