Kavango-Zambezi Conservation Area, covers an enormous area around Livingstone, into Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and Botswana. The plan is to include the villages inside the conservation area and allow the animals free passage from one National Park to another. And the animals, notably, elephant are now moving into and around Sioma Ngwezi National Park. They are moving outside the park and going in to the villages. Although the planting season has not started properly the villagers are already complaining. In a report in the Post: Manyandelo (UPND Chairperson) accused ZAWA of having failed to do their work, alleging that the elephants had been terrorising the area for over two months, but no proper measures had been put in place by the officers.
The aim of the KAZA Conservation Area is not to put fear into the hearts of the people and have their crops destroyed, but to allow the wildlife to move. With wildlife comes jobs, but the jobs are not there yet, so what happens now?
For me, I would probably say that it is fantastic to have the elephants returning to their old stomping grounds, but I am not a subsistence farmer who needs to grow his crops. Politicians and Chiefs are also praising Peace Parks Foundation for their innovative scheme of KAZA. But they too are not subsistence farmers either.
Throughout all my travels in Zambia I have found that communities around our parks and GMAs are poor; they gain little from the wildlife which often destroys their crops or kills their domestic animals. We are trying to put up conservancies in the communities but they are not reaping the benefits yet. For the short term, at least, if our wildlife tourism is to grow, the villagers need to have an income and if it is not through their farms, then it has to be through some form of compensation.