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Chiefs commit to wildlife corridor

Chiefs commit to wildlife corridor


A new model of community- based wildlife management is emerging in south-west Zambia where two chiefs have signed on to the Simalaha Community Wildlife Conservancy, linking Chobe and Kafue National Parks.

Decades of successful conservation management has brought the elephant population of Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to an estimated 250 000. The work of Dr Mike Chase and Kelly Landen has shown that in Botswana the elephant range has expanded by 43% since 1994.

Elephants are moving out of protected areas in Botswana and heading north across the Zambezi River into south-east Angola and south-west Zambia. Tourism is Botswana’s second largest industry and has created 60 000 jobs; elephants contribute some US$20 million to the economy annually.

Wildlife conservancies in Botswana and Namibia have significantly improved the standard of living for rural communities. How can this success story be replicated across the Zambezi River in Angola and Zambia, to alleviate rural poverty?

A new model of community- based wildlife management is emerging in south-west Zambia. Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta and Chief Sekute and their communities have set up an initiative to be known as the Simalaha Community Wildlife Conservancy.

This ground-breaking project will allow communities to offer tourism concessions on their own land to private sector tour operators and to enter into joint-venture business partnerships.

In June this year both chiefs met at Mwandi and ceremoniously signed the government maps that define the new wildlife conservancy. The project establishes a land link that will allow elephants to re-create ancient migration routes between the Zambezi and the Kafue valleys, stretching from Chobe National Park in Botswana to Zambia’s Kafue National Park.

Rural communities in the Kasaya river valley have driven the process of land-use planning, assisted by the Zambia Wildlife Authority and facilitated by the Peace Parks Foundation.

The Kasaya river forms the boundary between the Western and Southern Provinces of Zambia.

The Simalala Floodplains occur on both sides of the Kasaya. In years of good rainfall the floodplains are covered by water and fish move up into the floodplains from the Zambezi river.

Drive from Livingstone to Sesheke in April and May and you will find the mopane woodlands are under water on both sides of the main tar road. When the water is high, local fishermen can be seen travelling through the woodland by makoro! Great numbers of Openbilled Storks and Maribou Storks can be seen working the edges of the pans as the floods recede.

The vision of the two chiefs is to reintroduce lechwe, waterbuck and other plains game species to their former home range and then to encourage the private sector to invest in tourism. Another major milestone in the development of the Kaza TFCA; watch this space!

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 07, Dec 2011)

More on Simalaha:
First wildlife release launches Simalaha (Zambezi Traveller Issue 15, Dec 2013)
Profits beyond projection (Zambezi Traveller Issue 15, Dec 2013)
A leader’s passion reveals the future (Zambezi Traveller Issue 09, Jun 2012)
Chiefs commit to wildlife corridor (Zambezi Traveller Issue 07, Dec 2011)

Read more on the KAZA TFCA: