In the 1990’s, increased poaching became a significant threat to the wildlife in the Lower Zambezi. This prompted concerned local safari operators and other stakeholders to recognise the need for organised support for ZAWA wildlife protection operations in the Lower Zambezi area. CLZ was formed in 1994 to assist ZAWA (then known as National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (NPWS)) and the community with conservation efforts.
In the fight for the protection of Lower Zambezi’s wildlife, CLZ works closely with DNPW, providing financial, logistical and technological support to ensure operations are fully equipped and ensure the Wildlife Police Officers (WPOs) have everything they need to stand strong against wildlife crime. The Wildlife Protecton Programme has a number of projects that all work towards the goal of protection:
CLZ supports the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in their mandate to carry out foot patrols in the Lower Zambezi National Park and surrounding Game Management Areas.
Village Scout Unit
Employed under both CLZ and the local Community Resource Boards (CRB), the Village Scout patrol teams carry out wildlife protection patrols in the park and Game Management Area under the leadership of a DNPW Wildlife Police Officer.
CLZ’s ‘eyes-in-the-skies’, a Cessna 172 (‘9J-CLZ’), carries out regular aerial patrols over the Lower Zambezi National Park and Game Management Areas to detect illegal activities and for monitoring wildlife movements. The plane is an essential tool in spotting illegal activities, which can then be responded to by patrol teams on the ground.
Detection and Tracking Dog Unit
The Lower Zambezi canine unit is made up of four handlers and two dogs. The unit moves between trafficking ‘hotspots’ in the area surrounding the park to strangle channels of movement of illegal wildlife products, as well as acting as a deterrent. The highly trained dogs are imprinted with the scent of ivory, pangolin scales, bushmeat, firearms and ammunition.
Investigations and Intelligence Unit
In partnership with DNPW, CLZ supports the Investigations and Intelligence Unit (IIU). The unit carries out regular and continuous monthly covert operations in the Lower Zambezi Area Management Unit (LZAMU), relying on the establishment of an effective informer network and officers being planted in the communities.
CLZ hosts six school visits a year where 24 children and 4 teachers from each project area are invited to spend three nights and two days at CLZ’s Environmental Education Centre which is based just outside the National Park. During the visit children engage in various lessons and activities, which revolve around a number of conservation topics. The children are also taken on game drives and boat rides to see wild animals.
CLZ’s environmental educator carries out five outreaches a year. He travels to each project area and visits each school that CLZ works with to distribute the Nzou Environmental Education Teachers Curriculum, Student Activity books and HIV/AIDS Health Curriculum to each Conservation Club.
Each year, CLZ chooses one of its five project areas and invites 24 teachers from the Conservation Clubs to attend a three night and two-day teacher training workshop at CLZ’s Environmental Education Centre. This is a vital part of the environmental education program, as it ensures that teachers are trained to teach their clubs on conservation issues and that they too have a strong connection and understanding of the topics.
Human Wildlife Conflict Patrols
During the peak Human Wildlife Conflict season when the community are harvesting their crops, CLZ deploys a full time Village Scout team in the community to be present within the Chiawa Game Management Area and respond to any HWC incidents. Providing a trained and armed response unit to community reports of HWC incidents and more.
For the past few years, CLZ and Awely have been assisting and educating farmers on the use of chilli-fences as a mitigation method to deter elephants from their fields. Farmers are also encouraged to grow chilli as a ‘cash’ crop that elephants will have no desire to eat and which CLZ sells on behalf of the farmer to a local condiments producer.
CLZ and Awely host an Anti-Snare Campaign on an annual basis. CLZ’s Environmental Educator, Besa Kaoma, Operations Manager Rabson Tembo and Awely Red Cap Stephen Kalio spend three days in three villages of the Chiawa Game Management Area. The campaign focuses on the issue of snaring and how if you ‘remove a snare you can save a life’.
‘Rubatano’ (Unity in the local language Goba) is CLZ’s annual community sports day that brings together local netball and football teams to battle it out on the pitch for the grand prize of being the strongest, fastest and fittest team in the area. The event is aimed to promote relationships between the local community members, DNPW, conservation, lodges and other stakeholders outside of the law enforcement realm with which CLZ is often associated.
The Mbeli Women’s Group
CLZ currently supports the ‘Mbelis’ (meaning ‘moving forward’ in the local language) which is a women’s group in the Chiawa Game Management Area with the aim to develop their skills, create means of an income, take ownership of a business and find a market for their products.
To find out how you can help CLZ here.