- Issue: Summer 2018
Our feature journeyed to the heart of the world’s largest trans-boundary conservation area: the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, known as KAZA. The governments of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe created KAZA with a shared vision that conservation can be the region’s economic driver, generating thriving landscapes for wildlife and people. WWF and others are supporting KAZA countries in establishing and securing corridors by which animals can move freely across international boundaries. This will allow growing populations of elephants and large predators in Botswana and other countries to repopulate wildlife-depleted areas, including Zambia’s Sioma Ngwezi National Park.
In 2016, WWF and the DNPW designated the first IPZ in Sioma Ngwezi National Park. This nearly 62,000-acre area, created to receive animals transferred from other places, acts as a wildlife safe zone that can be closely monitored and protected from poachers. With the help of the local community, WWF is constructing a base of operations in the IPZ, including accommodations for rangers.
In 2016, 15 elephants were poached in the region. That same year, WWF helped recruit and train 25 new DNPW wildlife police officers and seven community scouts, almost doubling the Sioma Ngwezi force and allowing round-the-clock surveillance of the IPZ. From January to May 2017, no elephants were poached, and the patrol team arrested 47 poachers.
Leaps and bounds
In 2018, 200 impalas, 75 zebras, 35 buffaloes, 100 wildebeests, and 30 ostriches are expected to be transferred into the IPZ. The increase of prey populations will draw additional species, including predators, to the area.
While human-wildlife conflict still threatens the sustainability of the park, scouts are being trained to respond to help address it; in the first half of 2017, the Sioma Ngwezi team responded to 77% of 73 recorded incidents. Sadly, during this same period three people died from human-wildlife conflict. WWF is working with its partners to establish tools and policies to decrease such incidents.