Saturday, 30 January 2016 saw the official opening of the Sioma Ngwezi National Park headquarters in Zambia by Deputy Minister of Tourism and Arts, Mr Patrick Ngoma. Also participating in the ceremony was Mr Stephan Neu, KfW Country Director and Induna Inanduko of the Barotse Royal Establishment. Community members came out in full force to celebrate the opening. read more
Situated in south-western Zambia, Sioma Ngwezi National Park is strategically positioned on the borders of Zambia with Namibia and Angola. While the park now forms part of the national conservation estate of Zambia, it was previously part of the traditional conservation estate of the Barotse Royal Establishment, reflecting the value that traditional African societies place on areas that contain significant wildlife.
Wedged between the Luiana Partial Reserve in Angola and the Bwabwata National Park in Namibia, the park plays an essential ecological role in wildlife movement along the Kwando and Zambezi rivers despite it not extending all the way to the Zambezi River. The park and the surrounding area within the West Zambezi Game Management Area have therefore been earmarked for intensive wildlife recovery.
As part of their grant to KAZA TFCA, KfW allocated funding to Sioma Ngwezi National Park. Initial efforts were concentrated on field patrols, infrastructure development, the mitigation of human–wildlife conflict, participation in the Community-centred Conservation and Development (CCCD) programme, compilation of work plans and the finalisation of the Ngonye Falls development plan.
In 2010, Peace Parks Foundation, with support from The Rufford Foundation and the CCCD programme, erected an elephant-restraining line around Kabula village, which had been subjected to consistent elephant crop raids. Since the erection of the line, the elephant raids have stopped and the community members are no longer losing their food sources to elephants. An elephant-restraining line consists of electrified wires that run about two metres above ground, thus allowing community members free movement while protecting crops from elephants.
Thanks to a donation from the Cleveland Zoological Society in 2012, tents were erected at the Kwando ranger outpost, a wooden cabin was built to accommodate the technical adviser, and a boat and outdoor motor were purchased for law enforcement patrols on the Kwando River. In another development, vital to visitor numbers, the road between Sesheke and the park was tarred.
In 2013 a hangar and a microlight aircraft were sponsored by Club 21 members Neville and Pamela Isdell. The microlight is used to monitor and protect the wildlife in the park.
In 2015, Angola, Namibia and Zambia started joint law enforcement operations, which yielded good results. The Zambia Wildlife Act was revised and promulgated, enabling vastly increased fines to be imposed for poaching. Thanks to a grant from Neville and Pamela Isdell, two additional vehicles were purchased, which improved the ability to deploy personnel.
The park headquarters were officially opened on 30 January by Deputy Minister of Tourism and Arts, Mr Patrick Ngoma, who praised the German government for setting up offices in the park. Funded as part of the KAZA TFCA development by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, through KfW, it includes 11 offices, a radio control room, an ablution block, 20 houses for junior staff and five houses for senior staff. The houses were all connected to water and electricity. A satellite communications system was installed to enable the offices to have Internet connection and a borehole was sunk to ensure a steady stream of good quality water.
Two boreholes were drilled and equipped with pumps and two water tanks of 10 000 litres each were erected in the park’s intensive protection zone. Water is now being pumped to two pans. This is a first step in augmenting the water supply in the park and will be expanded to other areas. The constant water supply has already stabilised game numbers in the area and also attracted more animals.