A Giant leap towards the KAZA vision. | WWF Zambia

A Giant leap towards the KAZA vision.

Posted on
13 July 2018
On 6th July 2018, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Zambia ) and other partners commenced the 2018 capture and translocation operations to restock the Sioma Ngwezi National Park. This initiative is funded by WWF Zambia with support from WWF US, Netherlands, Belgium and the Isdell Family. The operation is one of the milestones for achieving the Kavango Zambezi Tranfrontier conservation Areas’( KAZA TFCA) vison of “establishing a world-class transfrontier conservation and tourism destination area in the Okavango and Zambezi River Basin regions of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe within the context of sustainable development”.

The Sioma Ngwezi National Park, located in Sesheke and Sioma districts of Western province, is Zambia’s third largest National Park and lies in the centre of the KAZA TFCA. Unfortunately, it is among the least stocked and developed national parks after having suffered excessive hunting and poaching during and after liberation wars. It was also subject to sub optimal management investment after the post liberation war era.
The Silowana Complex, located in the southwest corner of Zambia comprising the Sioma Ngwezi National Park (SNNP) and the southern portion of the West Zambezi Game Management Area, presents the conservation community with one of the biggest opportunities for the recovery and expansion of wildlife in Southern Africa. It borders both Angola and Namibia and is part of the contiguous set of protected areas that includes Luengue-Luiana and Mavinga National Parks in Angola, and Bwabwata National Park and other conservation areas in Namibia – all falling within the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). The central location of SNNP within KAZA makes it a critical connectivity landscape for elephants and other large carnivores. 
The creation of Kavango Zambezi Trans frontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) in 2010 has provided the impetus for the Zambian government, KAZA and their partners  (such as WWF) to invest in revitalizing the Sioma Ngwezi National Park.  With improved management and development, the Sioma Ngwezi National Park, is viewed as an important long-term dispersal sanctuary for Botswana’s over-abundance of elephants which historically would traverse the Kwando Corridor into the Park’s superb elephant habitat.  Thus, the park has incredible conservation potential as strategic habitat and corridor for the free movement of animals from either Namibia or Angola into Zambia. 
WWF Zambia Wildlife Programme Manager, Mr. Moses Nyrienda explained that the Sioma Ngwezi wildlife restocking initiative is aimed at accelerating the recovery of wildlife populations in order to create a foundation for wildlife based tourism in the National Park and the surrounding Game Management Area. 
This a massive operation that will involve translocation of 400 impala, 35 buffalo, 100 wildebeest and the reintroduction of 30 wild ostriches from other wildlife protected areas to Sioma  between July and September 2018 ”, said Mr. Nyrienda. 
To ensure the safety of the reintroduced wildlife, WWF supported the recruitment of an additional 25 Wildlife Police Officers in 2017 and is supporting 22 Community scouts working in the Sioma Ngwezi National park and Lower WEST Zambezi GMA, collectively known as the Silowana complex.
WWF is also working very closely with Community Resource Boards and the BRE (in Mwandi and Kaunga Mashi Kuta) to ensure that the local communities are sensitised and involved in the restocking process because community support is cardinal to the success of the project. 
Commenting on the restocking, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Director Mr. Paul Zyambo stated; 
This is an important operation for the Ministry of Tourism and Arts as it is the foundation for developing tourism products for Sioma Ngwezi National Park.  It is in line with the Government’s intentions espoused in the 7th National Development plan which mentions restocking of depopulated national parks and development of tourism as strategies for economic diversification and poverty reduction. We anticipate that improved management efforts will be triggered by the restocking process.  Improved management operations will also provide a conducive environment for populations of other wildlife species to recover in Sioma Ngwezi National park",  said Mr Zyambo. 
The Sioma Ngwezi Species Restocking initiative is a long term partnership among the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, the World Wide Fund for Nature, Peace Parks Foundation, the Kavango Zambezi Transfrointer Conservation Area and Community Resources Boards that all seek to contribute to the enhancement of ecological and socio-economic functions of the Sioma Ngwezi National Park and parts of the West Zambezi Game Management Areas.