On 13 August, eight giraffe from Salambala Conservancy in the Zambezi Region of Namibia were welcomed to Simalaha Community Conservancy during a festive event hosted by Chief Sekute of the Kazungula District. The ceremony was officiated by the Zambian Deputy-Minister of Tourism and Arts, Mr Patrick Ngoma, and attended by representatives of the chiefdoms and community members.
KAZA TFCA has many distinguishing features of global importance, among them the largest contiguous population of African elephant on the continent, numbering approximately a quarter of a million animals. Of significant benefit to both the local communities and this huge meta-elephant population is the establishment of one of Zambia’s first conservancies, the Simalaha Community Conservancy, spanning the Sisheke and Kazungula chiefdoms. The conservancy is an important area in KAZA TFCA to re-establish wildlife populations and their migration routes and will ultimately link Chobe National Park in Botswana to Kafue National Park in Zambia.
Establishing the Conservancy
Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta of the Sesheke District (west of the Kasaya River) and Chief Sekute of the Kazungula District (east of the Kasaya River) agreed to establish the Simalaha Community Conservancy as an area to re-establish wildlife populations and a mechanism to stimulate community benefits through wildlife and tourism development.
With funding received from WWF Germany, the first steps in the establishment of the conservancy were taken. Through a consultative process with the local communities, the boundaries of the conservancy were determined.
On 22 October 2012 the Simalaha Community Conservancy was officially launched by Chief Sekute and Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta. They also opened the conservancy offices at the Mwandi Kuta, kindly made available by Senior Chief Yeta. The Senior Chief thanked Mava Fondation pour la Nature and the Swedish Postcode Lottery for their support to the conservancy.
On the same day, the teachers accommodation at the Mwandi School in Simalaha, built thanks to Stichting Energo, were officially handed over.
On 13 August 2015, eight giraffe were welcomed to Simalaha Community Conservancy. They were joined by 32 puku, 25 red lechwe, 140 impala, 25 waterbuck and 28 zebra. In all, 543 animals have been relocated to Simalaha. They have settled in well and produced young. The conservancy is a unique initiative in Zambia in which the communities own and manage the natural resources. The reestablishment of wildlife on the Simalaha Floodplains had initially been proposed by the communities through their respective traditional leaders. The communities of Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta and Chief Sekute declared that land should be dedicated to wildlife use for tourism development.
In 2014, 50 zebra were captured in the Salambala Conservancy and transported to Simalaha. In 2013, 135 wildebeest and 100 impala were brought in.
Also in 2014, community wildlife monitors started working in Simalaha following their training, made possible thanks to support from MAVA Fondation pour la Nature. The monitors oversee the wildlife and sanctuary fence. The wildlife sanctuary covers an area of 24 000 ha across both chiefdoms. The wildlife is released into the sanctuary, where they can be properly protected, to allow them to increase in numbers.
Once the animal numbers have increased sufficiently, the fences of the sanctuary will be removed to allow the wildlife to move into the bigger area.
Thanks to MAVA Fondation pour la Nature, a tractor, trailer and mower were purchased to assist with the maintenance of firebreaks and roads along the game-proof fence. A new 4x4 pick-up vehicle was also procured for use by the conservancy manager. Uniforms, camping equipment, binoculars and hand-held radios were purchased for the wildlife monitors. MAVA Fondation pour la Nature, the Swedish Postcode Lottery and the Cleveland Zoological Society havee been supporting the development of the wildlife sanctuary, the wildlife translocations and the community monitor training.
Human rights-based approach
On 11 May 2012 the Swedish Postcode Lottery announced a donation of of SEK10 million for a special programme to be implemented in the Simalaha Community Conservancy in Zambia. This follows on an application jointly submitted by Peace Parks Foundation Sweden and the Joaquim Chissano Foundation.
The programme funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery will focus on a community-based approach to natural resource management that will improve local ownership and access to basic human rights, such as access to food, health, shelter and education by responsibly managing natural resources and wildlife.
The programme constitutes four projects, namely the establishment of two wildlife sanctuaries, training in conservation agriculture, training in controlled grazing, and the introduction of sustainable energy products, which will all bring socio-economic benefit flows to the community.
Conservation farming techniques are known to increase yields while using less labour and materials on smaller tracts of land and reducing deforestation. The ultimate aim is to help the people move from subsistence to sustainable farming. The conservation agriculture manager continued training the 300 conservation farmers, who were issued with cassava cuttings and cattle manure, as well as seed to grow maize, cowpeas and groundnuts. The combined surface planted by the farmers for each crop is 37.5 ha. Despite a dry spell, the average yield per hectare has increased from 0.2 tonnes using conventional farming methods to 1.9 tonnes using conservation farming techniques.
The 20 farmers issued with foot-operated pumps have been able to grow crops during the dry winter months and managed to sell their produce, which significantly improved their household revenues. In addition, lead farmers were trained who will, in turn, train over 200 new smallholder farmers. To help with this, 24 bicycles were purchased and distributed to the lead farmers. Towards the end of the year, seed for the 2014/2015 season was purchased and distributed to the farmers. The increase in food production
brought about by conservation agriculture has helped to reduce the threat of poaching.
Hitachi Data Systems and Xcelus, with generous support from the Kadans Foundation, in 2014 produced conservation farming training videos. The videos were distributed on Samsung tablets that will be used by lead farmers to train people in the Simalaha Community Conservancy.
Watch the video on the Simalaha wildlife translocation and conservation agriculture projects, made for SABC's 50/50 programme. Back to Community Development