Sioma Ngwezi National Park Receives Wildlife Boost | WWF Zambia

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Sioma Ngwezi National Park Receives Wildlife Boost

National parks offer protection to some of the best natural heritage, with scenes of amazing wildlife species, majestic forests and some stunning landscapes.

National parks offer protection to some of the best natural heritage, with scenes of amazing wildlife species, majestic forests and some stunning landscapes. Together with other protected areas, they act as a refuge for species thereby forming the basis of our economic and social wellbeing through attracting tourists.

With an estimated area of 5,276 square kilometers, the Sioma Ngwezi National Park, located in Sesheke and Sioma districts of Western Province, is Zambia’s third largest National Park. Like most national parks in Zambia, Sioma Ngwezi is unfenced allowing for free movement of animals and is surrounded by buffer zones where hunting is regulated, called Game Management Areas (GMAs). The park borders both Angola and Namibia and is part of the contiguous set of protected areas all falling within the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA).

Many years ago, before the liberation wars in Angola and Namibia, Sioma Ngwezi was once a vibrant park. However, during and after the wars, the area succumbed to heavy poaching, leading to a serious decline of wildlife populations in the park.

The declining numbers of wildlife in the park resulted in low tourist activity in the region, also affecting the local economy. If well stocked and managed, the Sioma Ngwezi National Park, would notably contribute to the socio-economic development of Sioma District and the country at large, through enhanced tourism.
In an effort to establish a world-class transfrontier conservation and tourism destination in the South-West corner of Zambia, the government through the Ministry of Tourism, Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) working with the World Wide Fund for Nature in Zambia (WWF) embarked on a plan to restock wildlife populations in the Sioma Ngwezi National Park through the reintroductions of species.

WWF Zambia has over the past years supported the capture and translocation of about 600 wildlife species to Sioma Ngwezi national park which include sable, Buffalo, Impala and Wildebeest among others. The operations are often comprised of DNPW Veterinarian Doctors who were responsible for the safety of the wildlife by collecting blood samples and providing health checks, Ecologists who determine the environmental effects of wildlife from the capture site to the destination area and the Wildlife police officers. The team accompanies the translocation trucks to Sioma Ngwezi national park and witnesses the wildlife release into the holding boma. 
Wildlife translocations have historically assisted in re-establishing species in areas of extinction. The nature of these species translocated are important in attracting carnivores to the national park and an ecological reason for translocating species such as the impala is the high reproduction rate and survival.

The restocking exercise is helping in improving wildlife recovery, this is evident at the southeast border where elephants have re-established an old migration route, now very visible with several tracks in a corridor extending over more than one kilometer.

Tourism continues to play a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of Zambia, accounting for about 4.6 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Through tourism, businesses are developed and jobs created, especially in communities with low agricultural potential.

Communities from well-established national parks highly benefit from the revenue collected which is shared equally between the government and the local community. This is done through the Community Resource Boards (CRBs), who identify community needs and requirements such as a school or clinic.

The economic benefits of national parks extend beyond tourism. Tourist visitations and spending directly in the national parks annually contribute to the creation of public and private sector jobs.

The beauty about Sioma Ngwezi national park is that it lies strategically between Livingstone, Zambia’s tourist capital and the Liuwa national park. The restocking of the national park hopes to build another resource base where a combination of the Ngonye falls and increased wildlife numbers in Sioma Ngwezi national park will create another tourism destination that will drive more tourists and unleash economic opportunities.
Impala being released in Sioma Ngwezi National Park.