CORRECTION: There were some mistakes on the figure on in the article, instead of 2000 animals roam freely it should read ‘more than 100,000 animals roam freely. Also the $15 000 is tourism revenue plus monies from the anti-poaching fund..
Situated in the Western Province of Zambia on the floodplains of the upper Zambezi, Liuwa National Park is one of the fastest rising game reserves and tourist attractions in Africa.
Covering 360,000 hectares of land that reaches as far as Angola, the park is home to over 2000 animals that roam freely in harmony with the locals, who have in the past years, with the help of African Parks, taken steps to conserve the wildlife.
Covering 360,000 hectares of land that reaches as far as Angola, the park is home to over 300 bird species,30 species of large animals,45,000 of which are Wildbeest. The fauna roams freely in harmony with the locals, who have in the past years, with the help of African Parks, taken steps to conserve the wild life.
African Parks, together with the local authorities, had found a way to give back to the community in a way that the community also take part. When self-drive tourists visit Liuwa, they stay at any of the five Community Campsites and all the revenue these camps make goes back to developing the community. Liuwa Park Manager Raquel Filgueiras share some information how it all happens. “The revenue that the campsite generates from these self-drive tourist who stay at the camps stays with the community. Last year alone these campsites generated about $15,000. This revenue does not include the salaries that the camp attendants get. This revenue is divided among the different chiefdoms in the National Park and goes into funding community projects. In the last 5 to 7 years most the chiefs wanted to increase the level of education among their people so the focus has been on building teachers houses and so far they have built 21 teachers houses across the park.”
Not only are the locals involved in these community campsites, they are also responsible for helping conserve wildlife by helping reduce poaching. Raquel says African Parks, which manages Liuwa Park, provides an anti-poaching fund every month to each community if there is no poaching. “We introduced an anti-poaching fund which tries to incentivize the communities not to poach. The way it works is that African Parks gives out a maximum of K10000 Kwacha to the communities if they don’t poach the animals. It actually works because it is linked to no poaching and they know that if they don’t poach they get more money at the end of the year to do more community projects. The money is accumulated for the whole year and together with revenue from the Community Camp sites it is used to further fund community projects.”
African Parks does not interfere with the running of the community projects but they just monitor the projects. “We leave the implementation of the projects to local chiefs who, together with their people, figure what they need to be done. We only supervise the projects but they do everything themselves. We inspect the projects and make sure they are running on time and then if the projects are not done there is a penalty for that particular chiefdom, which can be a reduction of the funding for the next year or a complete removal of the funding altogether depending whether the project was done or not. So there is a very strong incentive to make sure that things get done and that the money is spent according to the people’s plans. It takes a long of time but it’s worth it because it puts the ball on the community’ side to get things done. We are just there to help them help themselves.”
Besides the project of building teachers houses, one of the villages has built a maternity unit where pregnant mothers and those who are waiting on them can stay before they deliver. “This one village prioritized building a compound to accommodate pregnant women to stay there before giving birth and a week or so after delivery to make sure that everything is fine before they go home.”
Liuwa Plain has one of the oldest wildlife protection histories in Africa, having been originally been declared a royal hunting ground by the Barotse Litunga King, Lubosi Lewanika, in the 19th century and it continues to be a wildlife sanctuary today.