Efficient farming improves yields and protects wildlife in a Zambian national park

Zambian farmer pouring water over crops


The Liuwa Plain, a water-studded grassland on the western edge of Zambia, supports a delicate network of zebras, buffalo, migrating blue wildebeest, and a lion pride that was reintroduced in 2008. Humans have relied on the plain’s resources for centuries as well.

More than 10,000 people live within the boundaries of Liuwa Plain National Park, and that number is growing. Ensuring that people can peacefully coexist with wildlife in the shared landscape is essential to protecting the fragile grasslands. And while expansion of cultivated land threatens long-term conservation on the plain today, it doesn’t have to.

African Parks, a WWF partner in Liuwa Plain, has been working with the agricultural nonprofit Total Land Care (TLC) to help people in the Liuwa Plain—like Mola Nyambe from Mudandwe village, pictured here—produce more food on smaller plots of land, boosting local economies and preventing farming from expanding into core wildlife zones.

TLC runs 186 plots on the plain that serve as farmer field schools. Local producers use the plots to learn the most efficient and productive ways to irrigate and produce climate-resilient crops. By learning conservation-compatible agricultural practices, local communities are able to reduce human-wildlife conflicts resulting from competition over water sources and farming in or near wildlife corridors. The program also connects the farmers with markets that enable them to turn a profit, helping them continue to play a key role in conservation efforts where they live.

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