Kavango Zambezi TFCA, Sioma Ngwezi National Park, Wildlife Crime

Creating safe havens for pangolins

As we commemorate the 10th Annual World Pangolin Day on 20 February 2021, we are reminded of the plight of these uniquely beautiful scaly anteaters. As a result of being relentlessly poached for their scales, food, medicine, trophies or even as pets, pangolins are the most illegally trafficked wild animal on the planet and all eight species are categorised under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, as either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable. 

Restoring and protecting biodiversity is a critical part of Peace Parks’ transboundary conservation efforts, especially in places like Sioma Ngwezi National Park, where the effects of decades of war in the region also spilled over into Zambia, taking their toll on the park and severely depleting wildlife. Located in western Zambia, Sioma is the country’s third largest national park and lies in the centre of Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. Much has already been accomplished over the last few years to create safe ecosystems here in which species such as pangolin can once again thrive.

In 2018, Peace Parks signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the World Wide Fund for Nature to co-manage the Sioma Management Complex, which includes the park as well as a portion of a Game Management Area surrounding the park. The Barotse Royal Establishment and the two local Community Resource Boards are partners to this joint management effort.

Through this partnership the park’s anti-poaching efforts were greatly improved. Rangers were supplied with equipment and training and, together with enhanced anti-poaching strategies and added capacity, more effective and regular patrols are resulting in increased arrests that are curbing a wide variety of incursions.

At least now the pangolin has more than its prized keratin scales for protection; it also has committed rangers to shield it.

In addition to these efforts, Peace Parks also partnered with SYSTEMIQ, who assisted with the drafting of a Strategic Business Plan to ensure sustainable tourism development for the Sioma Management Complex, that focuses on income generation and job creation to support ecological protection and the harmonious co-existence of people and wildlife.

The success of these operations is made possible by the generous support of the Isdell family, KfW, DOB Ecology, SUN Institute and the Dreamfund grant from the Dutch Postcode Lottery.


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