Wildlife Conservation through Sustainable Rural Development in Northern Perimeter Villages of North Luangwa in Zambia

In the 1980’s, economic options for the inhabitants of villages surrounding the North Luangwa National Park (NLNP) were slash and burn farming and cooperation with commercial poachers. As a result, the average income of the villagers was £1.4 GBP per year and by 1985, a substantial percentage of wildlife was depleted from the Luangwa Valley. Hammer Simwinga founded the North Luangwa Wildlife Conservation and Community Development Programme (NLWCCDP) as a grassroots initiative to protect the remaining wildlife and to meet the needs of the human communities in and around the wildlife areas. NLWCCDP has significantly reduced poaching by improving the quality of life of 35,000 people living in more than sixty villages near NLNP through sustainable programmes in agriculture, small business, rural health and conservation education all couched in environmental stewardship.

With support from an Associate Award, the team aims to replicated this model and apply it to a set of villages north of the NLNP where poachers use the Great North Road to gain access to the national park. Villagers in these communities will be provided alternatives to exploitation of the natural resources, trained in basic medicine and family planning, and be educated and supported in creating sustainable and environmentally sound local economies. The NLWCCDP is educating people about how they can improve their farming methods (crop rotation, composting, and cultivation of nutritious, high-protein crops) while using wildlife-friendly methods of discouraging animal crop raiding, such as chilli pepper cultivation and beekeeping, which will also provide legal sustainable income. Local people are learning why slash-and-burn can’t be sustained and the effects of shifting cultivation in terms reduced soil erosion, air pollution, deforestation and habitat reduction. Reforestation initiatives are being put in place to reduce the time and labour costs required to haul firewood over ever increasing distances. NLWCCDP is also encouraging the use of solar box cookers to reduce dependence on firewood.

The NLWCCDP is moreover showing locals how to become self-reliant with respect to protein and cooking oil sources and other goods and services that have historically come from bush-meat and trade with poachers. This will be accomplished through the introduction of micro-industries including fish farming, sunflower cultivation and oil presses. Conservation education curriculum and materials will be provided to impoverished village schools. These supplies enrich conservation education and help teachers improve education overall. Adults will also have access to literacy and education programmes. In cooperation with the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), this programme is helping create viable and long-lasting alternatives to poaching, and illustrating how conservation-oriented practices are in the best interest of local communities.

HAMMER WINS GOLDMAN ENVIRONMENTAL PRIZE!

May 2007

We are delighted to announce Hammer Simwinga has won the 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa!

To read more, click here.

Full winners list