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 2014, 50 zebra and in 2013, 135 wildebeest and 100 impala were brought in. 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. At the time, the communities of Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta and Chief Sekute declared that land should be dedicated to wildlife use for tourism development.
In 2014, community wildlife monitors started working in Simalaha following their training, made possible thanks to support from MAVA Fondation pour la Nature. The conservancy wildlife manager and the community wildlife scouts carry out regular patrols to monitor the wildlife. No incidents of poaching have been recorded since the animals were introduced into the fenced sanctuary in 2013. The wildlife scouts also do fence maintenance work in the field.
Thanks to support from MAVA Fondation pour la Nature, new equipment was bought for general management and, specifically, to manage roads and fire-breaks. The event to celebrate the arrival of the new tractor, trailer and rotary mower was a colourful one with the attendance of senior government officials and traditional leaders from both the Kazungula and Sesheke districts. The opportunity was used to ceremoniously hand over bicycles to the lead farmers in the conservation agriculture project.
MAVA Fondation pour la Nature, the Swedish Postcode Lottery and the Cleveland Zoological Society have 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. 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.
Another 150 new farmers are trained in conservation farming each year. The 150 new farmers receive maize, sorghum, groundnut, cow pea and millet seed. Farmers with access to surface water were supplied with treadle pumps and produce both winter and summer crops. During the 2015/2016 farming season, the 150 farmers also received extra sorghum seed as a measure against the poor rains received so far. Consultations to explore ways of improving the market value of the key crops grown by the farmers are now under way.
Watch the video on the Simalaha wildlife translocation and conservation agriculture projects, made for SABC's 50/50 programme.