As part of their grant to KAZA TFCA, KfW allocated â‚¬3.3 million to Sioma Ngwezi National Park. Initial efforts were concentrated on field patrols, the mitigation of human/wildlife conflict, participation in the Community Centred Conservation and Development (CCCD) programme, compilation of work plans and finalisation of the Ngonye Falls development plan.
Zambia Wildlife Authority made available their engineer for infrastructure development to oversee the design and construction of the new park headquarters. Good progress was made during the year on renovating the visitorsâ€™ centre at Ngonye Falls and the first section of a game-proof fence around Ngonye Falls was completed.
The CCCD programme continued with a significant number of households being supported by means of farming initiatives. Bicycles were handed to the District Councillor for distribution to participants in the programme. A mushroom-growing pilot programme, chilli seed distribution, nursery planting and training in crop diversification and rice growing were undertaken, as were exchange trips to Namibian conservancies. The early burning programme, in which local communities participated, resulted in fewer late-season veld fires and thus less destruction, while the clearing of more tracks enabled increased foot and vehicle patrols of the area.
As the training of staff is a priority, some staff members attended further training at the Southern African Wildlife College, while others attended a course on the operation of an ivory-detecting device in Lusaka. In addition, training to improve capacity in dealing with human/wildlife conflict was offered by the Zambia Wildlife Authority. Wildlife officers and village scouts completed a three-month training course in June, while in-service training of local staff proceeded on a continuous basis.
During the consultation process to draft an integrated development plan (IDP) for the Zambian component of KAZA TFCA, Kabula 2 village was identified as one of the villages most severely affected by human/wildlife conflict, particularly from elephants eating up crops. Kabula 2 is situated between the northern boundary of Sioma Ngwezi National Park and the river and therefore on one of the main elephant corridors in the area. With funding received from The Rufford Foundation, an elephant restraining line was erected around the village in October 2010 as a pilot project. An elephant restraining line consists of electrified wires that run two metres above ground, thereby allowing communities free movement while protecting crops from elephants. The elephant restraining line has proven tremendously successful as there has not been a single breach by elephants since its erection, despite a history of crop destruction over many years. Villagers reported that they had seen elephants come close to the line on numerous occasions, but never attempting to break it. The community has taken ownership of the restraining line and ensures that it stays clear of vegetation and that the solar panels, battery and energiser are kept in working order. Thanks to the restraining line, Kabula 2 had a decent crop for the first time in many years and was able to sell some of the maize harvested. Previously the community had to rely on food relief schemes for survival.
In August 2012, Minister Masebo commissioned new headquarters and staff accommodation for the park, which are presently being constructed.
On 26 February 2013, Ms Sylvia T. Masebo, MP, the Zambian Minister of Tourism and Arts officially opened a hangar, constructed by Peace Parks Foundation, and launched a Bat Hawk microlight for Sioma Ngwezi National Park.
The hangar and the microlight were both sponsored by Mr Neville and Mrs Pamela Isdell. Mrs Isdell is a Founder Member of the Peace Parks Club, having supported the Foundationâ€™s work since 1998. With this munificent donation of $100 000, Mr Neville and Mrs Pamela Isdell have now upgraded their membership to the corporate level. Peace Parks Foundation thanks Mr and Mrs Isdell for their generosity and for their continued support over so many years.
The microlight will be used to monitor and protect the wildlife of Sioma Ngwezi National Park. Sioma Ngwezi is being developed as an integral component of the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA), with a â‚¬3.3 million grant from the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development, through KfW.