The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 October 2022
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.
Deputy-Minister Ngoma said that the Simalaha Community Conservancy is a unique initiative in Zambia in which the communities own and manage the natural resources. He reminded attendees that the proposal to re-establish wildlife on the Simalaha floodplains was initially proposed by the communities through their respective traditional leaders. The communities of Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta and Chief Sekute have declared that open land should be dedicated to wildlife use for tourism development. In addition to the development of the natural resources, Simalaha Community Conservancy is also training farmers in conservation agriculture to develop alternative livelihoods and to find markets for their produce. Deputy-Minister Ngoma ended by saying that the government fully supports such pro-active communities in Zambia and that the project serves as an inspiring model for other rural communities to emulate. He also said that the government of Zambia, as an active supporter of the initiative, will donate further species of wildlife to the Simalaha Community Conservancy.
The giraffe and a further 50 zebra, as well as the translocation costs, are kindly funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery, as part of a specially-funded community-based programme. Zambia Wildlife Authority is donating 100 puku, 50 red lechwe, 100 impala and 50 waterbuck to Simalaha. These animals will be translocated from the Busanga Plains in Kafue National Park to Simalaha later this month. In 2014, altogether 50 zebra were captured in the Salambala Conservancy and transported to Simalaha. In 2013, 135 wildebeest and 100 impala were brought in.
Simalaha Community Conservancy in Western Zambia is one of Zambia’s first conservancies and an important area in KAZA TFCA to re-establish wildlife populations and their migration routes. This will benefit the community by enhancing livelihood options, increasing wildlife numbers and promoting tourism development.
In 2014, community wildlife monitors started working in Simalaha following their training, made possible thanks to support from MAVA Foundation for 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.
Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation said: “Thank you very much to MAVA Fondation pour la Nature, the Swedish Postcode Lottery and the Cleveland Zoological Society for their support to the wildlife sanctuary, the wildlife translocations and the community monitor training. The communities of both chiefdoms have taken pride in the ownership of the wildlife and have full ownership in the management of the animals, which has ensured their security. Communities are vital to conservation and we are grateful to donors for supporting the establishment of such a crucial area in the KAZA TFCA, while benefiting the local communities.”