Empowering Zambia’s First Community ConservancyJanuary 24, 2019
In Lozi, the word ‘Simalaha’ means ‘to come together’. As such, the Simalaha Community Conservancy is an apt name for Zambia’s first community conservancy created by the Sisheke and Sekute chiefdoms in 2012.
Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta of the Sisheke Kingdom and Chief Sekute of the Sekute Chiefdom agreed that the area be developed as a wildlife conservancy within the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (View location of Conservancy on e-Maps here) with the support of Peace Parks Foundation. The establishment of the Conservancy not only allows for conservation of biodiversity and natural resources in the area, but also promotes income generation through the development of a wildlife economy and, in the long-run, tourism opportunities.
Since its establishment, wildlife such as impala, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, puku, waterbuck and red lechwe have been introduced and it is estimated that there are now over 1,100 animals in the sanctuary. The sanctuary will be expanded over the next four years to eventually house approximately 3,800 animals. The long-term objective is to remove the fences and, with the strategic placement of water and further introduction of various species, grow wildlife numbers to about 17,000 animals in a wildlife core area of about 135,000 hectares. MAVA is central to supporting this plan.
Currently, the Simalaha Community Conservancy team is working towards expansion of the sanctuary through close consultation with traditional authorities and the community. Furthermore, they are in the process of constructing livestock enclosures to receive 200 disease-free buffalos which will greatly assist in strengthening the wildlife economy (the first 90 buffalos were released in August 2018 – see press release).
To protect the wildlife in the sanctuary, the community scouts conduct short (1 day) and long (1 week) patrols on foot. The fact that no incidents of poaching have been recorded since the establishment of sanctuary is testament to the value the communities now place on wildlife and the project itself.
The Conservancy is currently developping strategic business plans for the sustainable development of alternative livelihoods, including the wildlife economy (supported by MAVA), commercial agriculture, fisheries and livestock farming. Additionally, the team is working on a pilot project which aims to implement the use of fuel efficient cookstoves to prevent deforestation through excessive chopping down of trees for charcoal (wood fuel being the primary source of energy in Zambia), and in the process generate carbon credits which could generating much needed funding for Conservancy operations.
The Simalaha Community Conservancy aims to inspire the creation of similar community conservancies in Zambia and serve as a model for the creation of a sustainable wildlife economy supported by alternative livelihoods to assist in the conservation of African wildlife. For more about the conservancy please visit www.peaceparks.org/simalaha-community-conservancy/.
MAVA has been supporting the Simalaha Community Conservancy with its Global programme since its inception in 2010 in particular the conservation and wildlife economy component.
Simalaha Community Conservancy is situated in the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area. KAZA is situated in the Okavango and Zambezi river basins where the borders of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge. It is the world’s largest transfrontier conservation area, spanning approximately 520,000 km² (similar in size to France). The Simalaha Community Conservancy was initially developed through funding from the Swedish Postcode Lottery. MAVA provides support to KAZA through Peace Parks Foundation who was appointed as implementing agent by the partner countries to provide financial management and technical and co-financing support to the KAZA secretariat.