The biggest and most intractable threats to the project site’s target species are habitat loss through uncontrolled conversion of land into agricultural areas and a significantly diminished wild prey base due to illegal bush meat poaching and direct persecution. Vast landscapes represent key habitats for many wildlife species and thus restoring connectivity between protected areas of the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) will have global significance for their conservation. Simultaneously, local communities often receive little benefits from the wealth of tourism products on their doorstep, increasing their dependence on hunting and the consumptive use of natural resources, a considerable threat to biodiversity.
The project is intended to be the start of a long term initiative in the region. It addresses both major threats through securing the designation of a community conservancy with appropriate land use zonation separating agricultural from wildlife areas to reduce human carnivore conflict. In the long term, wild prey populations and connectivity for carnivores and other megafauna through the ecosystem will be restored, whilst providing a wildlife based economy and conservation agriculture support to improve local livelihoods.
The project aims to secure agreement from government and traditional leadership on detailed and final outer boundaries for a community conservancy. A zoning plan will be established, with the conservancy broadly divided into intensive agricultural support zones, livestock farming zones and wildlife conservation zones. A map of conservancy boundaries and narrative document signed by relevant chiefs will be deposited at the Zambian Ministry of Lands. At the end of the project, the conservancy is planned to become operable through the establishment of sufficient capacity to implement a five year management plan, including wildlife monitoring and wildlife-based income generation plans.
This project is a part of the IUCN SOS African Wildlife initiative, which is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG Devco) through its B4Life initiative.