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How Community Can Save Elephants in Zambia

Zambia…it’s a country with beautiful people, teaming with wildlife & elephants, but a place that is home, unfortunately, to poachers.

We are excited to be starting a friendship with Game Rangers International. They work in the greater Kafue National Park helping create stable communities through community outreach, education initiatives, caring for 8 elephant orphans and working alongside ZAWA (Zambia Wildlife Authority) to train local rangers to patrol and protect the wild elephant populations.

Currently in Kafue National Park, there is an estimated 5,000 elephants. ZAWA has their hands full trying to patrol these elephants in an area of 8,000 square miles (roughly the size of Whales). Sport Beattie, CEO of Game Rangers International, works hard on training rangers  to work with ZAWA claiming that “ZAWA is under resourced” and that they can’t “secure the park in the way it should be secured. Which means there aren’t enough tourists. Which means there isn’t enough revenue. So organizations like ourselves need to come and play a supporting role.”

On March 5, three Zambians were shot dead in Zimbabwe after being found illegally poaching in Hwange National Park. ZAWA claimed that these three people were part of a poaching group 14 large. Then, on March 19, a farmer was in the Muchinga Province was convicted of killing elephants in North Luangwa National Park using poison. He will serve six years in prison and was finned K2,000.  However, this was not his first arrest - in 2007 he was arrested for having 37kg of elephant meat and was jailed for two years.

We contacted GRI to hear their thoughts on these recent events and to learn more about the Kafue Conservation Project (KCP), which provides “welfare, training and operational support to wildlife personnel on the front line of endangered species protection.”

Sarah Davies, PR for GRI, stated,

As an organisation supporting Zambia Wildlife Authority, Game Rangers International support the punishment of wildlife crime. Poison, as well as several other methods of illegal killing including snaring and shooting, are increasingly threatening the biodiversity of Zambia with a gruesome and horrific death. This crime has a huge detrimental impact on both the ecosystems and the economies of Zambia and must be tackled. GRI applaud Zambia Wildlife Authority and the judicial systems of Zambia for this success. We need more help like this to protect wildlife in Zambia!

The KCP project invests in the local community. Locals who decide to work as a ranger are given housing, health care and education. They are trained on how to tract & protect wildlife like elephants from poachers and are given the necessary training & tools needed to safely patrol the parks. Take a moment to learn more about the programs by visiting their site HERE. 

We want to highlight these exciting achievements from GRI’s ranger programs as of October 2013: the Special Anti-Poaching Unit supported by GRI has

  • completed over 2,275 man patrol days in the greater KNP (Kafue National Park),
  • recovered 14 pieces of ivory & 19 weapons
  • confiscated 73 bicycles (often used in bush meat poaching),
  • removed 325 snares (that represents 325 animals that were saved),
  • apprehended 56 poachers (including 2 notorious ivory poachers)
  • successfully prosecuted 32 poachers 

So although poaching is definitely still a problem in Zambia’s parks, we are confident and excited to see how GRI and ZAWA are working together to provide training and leadership opportunities for locals to get involved in protecting their heritage. This is a wonderful example of building community to save elephants, something Elephantopia is all about! Thanks to GRI for sharing the above photographs with us.

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