Why Zambia? Ethical Travel is Unforgettable
Written By Natasha Parker On June 29, 2022
Conde Nast has gone and said it: now is the time for the Zambian safari. Finally! And why is Zambia coming into her own? Because Zambia has always known something that the world is just discovering: ethical travel experiences are unforgettable.
Luxury tastes sweeter when you can share the joy around. The sun shines brighter when you know that it, rather than fossil fuel, is powering your holiday. Seeing a leopard lounging in the branches of a riverine ebony tree is that much more beautiful when you know how many dedicated heroes are protecting that leopard, not just for you to see it, but for the sake of the leopard itself and for the right of all wild animals to live free in pristine environments.
Our Takeover Month: Ethical Travel is Unforgettable
For the whole of last month, we invited our social media followers into the heart of some of the most vital projects in Zambia, to ‘takeover’ the eyes and ears of the heroes who do everything from empowering communities to safeguarding our wildlife and ecosystems.
We wanted to show you what a Silent Safari in Zambia is all about. Each of the projects we partner with has a way for travellers to get hands-on in their vital work, and they are always keen and happy to talk about what they are doing on the ground. So, for travellers looking for ethical travel with a luxurious twist, look no further than Zambia and be sure to support these projects:
And in the spirit of our Takeover, we are going to let the leaders from each project tell you about themselves! They will only draw attention to one aspect of their work, but do head over to their personal introduction blogs for a more comprehensive understanding of the range of ways in which each of these heroes saves the day, every day.
By Life Connected and the Green Safaris Conservation Foundation
We have a very close collaboration with Green Safaris and implement all their community development projects in Livingstone and Kafue National Park. We love working together and would like to share our communal story with you.
We would like to start by introducing ourselves and sharing our vision with you. By Life Connected was founded by Lars Vermeer, my partner, and myself, Kellie Bocxe from the Netherlands. In this post you see a recent picture of us visiting Livingstone Island & Devil’s Pool during very high water levels!
Our mission is to contribute to preserving African wildlife areas, in active partnership and collaboration with the communities next to these areas. We try to achieve this through inclusive development projects that focus on improving sustainable livelihoods, conservation and education.
This passion and drive to follow our mission came from our background and experience during our Master’s degree in Forest and Nature Conservation. We started with this mission in Zambia almost three years ago. With the help of Green Safaris, we’ve been able to grow our projects and our reach in record time.
Green Safaris now operates lodges in several different locations in Zambia, and we are implementing projects together in two different locations: within the Kafue National Park and Livingstone communities. The first is connected to Ila Safari Lodge and the second to Tongabezi and Livingstone Island & Devil’s Pool.
We are always linked with wildlife areas. The locations require different approaches as community development means something unique for each area. In the Kafue National Park we are directly next to the park and provide communities with alternative livelihoods that will stop them from poaching and charcoal burning. Thereby we indirectly protect the wildlife of the national park.
For Livingstone, the link is a bit different. There is a major amount of human-wildlife conflict in this area, especially with elephants as Livingstone town lies directly on an old migratory route of elephants. The projects in this area focus on educational purposes and solutions to human-wildlife conflicts, as well as to show communities how these animals are actually contributing to their livelihoods by bringing in tourism.
This has made it very exciting for us to develop projects in both locations and see how we can best achieve the most development and relieve of pressure on the natural resources in both areas.
Read more about By Life Connected here.
At the heart of Project Luangwa is the belief in empowering communities through the benefits of tourism. At the cornerstone of our beliefs is improving standards of health and education, and providing a platform to help raise rural areas out of poverty.
In South Luangwa, the river forms a natural barrier between South Luangwa National Park and the Game Management Area to its east. The villagers within this area rely on subsistence farming but their fields and gardens are often raided by elephants and other game.
Within the area around Mfuwe are more than 20 government and community schools, and Project Luangwa aims to support as many of these as it can, through a number of different projects that focus on:
- Gender support and gender clubs
- Ufulu sanitary pads
- Craft workshops
- Preparing students for life after school
- Eco Stove initiative
Gender empowerment clubs and Ufulu sanitary pads
Our Gender Clubs are a huge part of what we do. Not only do we run 20 clubs across four chiefdoms, seeing on average participants of 300 students, but we also run two major events and a number of smaller get-togethers throughout the year.
The clubs aim to provide a safe space for children to discuss topics that may be culturally sensitive or often have a stigma attached, such as early marriage and consent. The pandemic has piled even more pressure and fear onto children, and the clubs have provided a much-needed source of respite and guidance. They have also created spaces where boys and girls can talk freely with love and kindness, and we see the direct impact this has on their own confidence and interpersonal relationships.
Access to sanitary products is extremely challenging for young girls in Mfuwe, leaving most to rely on rags or similar methods every month. The reality is that most girls miss up to a week of school every month due to this, further widening the gender inequality gap, and feeding into negative stereotypes. With the support of donors and supporters, we aim to deliver more than 4,000 pads every year! On visiting Project Luangwa, you can see the team in action making the pads, or visit a school and see a workshop.
Yes, Zambia still has gender inequality, but our country is growing and changing every day, and we hope to speed up that change.
Read more about the rest of Project Luangwa’s initiatives here.
Founded in 2006, Panthera is devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 species of wild cats and the vast ecosystems they inhabit.
Our team is now going to introduce you to three of the most powerful tools we use in partnership with Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to protect big cats in Zambia, along with one of our major projects:
- Camera trapping
- Citizen science
- Halo protection
- North Carolina Zoo vulture project
The Halo Protection approach
Together with DNPW, our team began a program of in situ protection across intensive protection zones (IPZs) in Zambia – both supported by Green Safaris Conservation Foundation. Part of the program is to wrap focal protection around key groups and individuals of lions, cheetahs and wild dogs. We call this the Halo Protection approach.”
The partnership began in 2018 and reports of snared carnivores within our IPZs dropped to zero almost immediately. This involves focally monitoring key groups, checking for snares, and informing where the patrol teams should be directed to provide the best protection for these groups – especially when denning or mating. In the north, this has been done in partnership with the Zambian Carnivore Program.
We have two dedicated lion monitoring teams: one in northern Kafue and one in Southern Kafue. The Green Safaris Conservation Foundation has been a key supporter of our protection program in Kafue National Park since the beginning, supporting communications across the park. They are currently directly supporting the lion monitoring team, and directly funding the wild cat anti-poaching team dedicated to protecting wildlife on the Busanga Plains.
As a result of our combined efforts, for the first time in the last six years the Hook Bridge or Ila pride has successfully grown cubs into sub-adults to become part of Kafue’s next generation of lions.
If you want to read more about the incredible work being done by Panthera, head over here.
Zambian Carnivore Programme
In an era of rapid, human-induced ecological change, we have found accurate and current scientific information is vital for informing and guiding conservation. Our collaborative long-term studies of large carnivores, their prey, habitat, and the factors limiting and threatening them, are therefore of critical importance.
We collaborate with an array of local partners to help ensure that threats are addressed through initiatives like:
- Anti-poaching and wildlife crime prevention
- Land-use planning
- Species reintroduction
- Human-carnivore conflict and disease mitigation
Our Team: Meet Bridget Mayani
Bridget is a former trainee, now Senior Ecologist/Mentor in the Zambian Carnivore Programme Luangwa Valley’s Women in Wildlife Conservation (WIWC) Training Programme.
Educator extraordinaire, Bridget Mayani, enthusiastically shares her knowledge with students in our Conservation Clubs. Photo: Sandra Martens/ZCP.
This training programme focuses exclusively on promoting women, given their under-representation in the conservation sector in general and in conservation science in particular. In an effort to encourage Zambian women to pursue work in field-based conservation, trainees are paired with a female ZCP Ecologist like Bridget, to receive personal mentoring and training in all aspects of the field.
Bridget’s work is sponsored in part by the generosity of Green Safaris. On behalf of all the ZCP women in our WIWC Training Programme, we thank you for your support!
As a mentor for our WIWC Training Programme, Bridget teaches Tikambenji Mando, a new trainee at our Luangwa Valley field site, how to properly input field data. Photo: Eric Njobvu/ZCP.
For more about the Zambian Carnivore Programme, head to their full blog here.
The Tongabezi Trust School
Welcome to Tujatane, the Tongabezi Trust School. What started as a little preschool of 15 children in one single, open-plan class on the 1st of May in 1996, has grown to a school of over 280 pupils ranging from Preschool to Grade 9. The school is now made up of many classrooms, as well as an art room, a music room, an amphitheatre, sports grounds, a library, and a canteen.
Our school provides underprivileged rural children living within walking distance of the school with a well-rounded education in a bid to improve the quality of their lives. We rely solely on donations and are funded by the generous sponsorship of donors around the world.
In the local language, ‘Tujatane’ means, “Let us all hold hands together.” The Tujatane, Tongabezi Trust School story has always been about holding hands together as a local community and with those around the world who generously support the school. We want to help the children to develop a greater knowledge and understanding of their world, so they may make informed choices and have the chance of bright, promising futures.
Careers day is a big part of the Tongabezi Trust school calendar because it shows us how big our children’s dreams are. From doctors to nurses, teachers and pilots, there are many important dreams. We need funding to make them a reality after they leave us and go onto higher education.
We currently have 52 students in our tertiary education programme (after they leave Tujatane itself and go into high school) and this is our biggest and most challenging sponsorship programme to fund. Tertiary education is expensive, but in order for little children to grow up to be doctors or nurses or teachers, they first have to be big children who learn the necessary skills. Further education is the only way for big dreams to become big realities.
Conservation South Luangwa
When there are clouds on the horizons of Zambia’s local wildlife, Conservation South Luangwa (CSL) creates vital silver linings. We have been officially registered since 2003, and since then we have worked in partnership with Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to protect the 1,400,000 hectares of largely intact wilderness in eastern Zambia that makes up the South Luangwa National Park and the network of surrounding Game Management Areas (GMAs).
Our team, along with the DNPW, work on the frontline of wildlife conservation and human-wildlife coexistence in the South Luangwa Valley, which is also known to many as the Valley of the Leopard. It is home to over 60 species of mammal and 450 species of bird, including the endemic Thornicroft Giraffe and Cookson’s Wildebeest and high densities of lion, leopard and wild dog as well as being Zambia’s elephant stronghold.
Our mission is to work with community and conservation partners in the protection of the wildlife and habitats of the South Luangwa ecosystem.
Our vision is the long-term survival of wildlife and habitats in South Luangwa under the custodianship of the Zambian people.
South Luangwa National Park and the surrounding GMAs face rapid encroachment from human settlement and agriculture. Human populations have more than doubled over the past 20 years and as a result, there is a high demand for protein in the form of bush meat as well as opportunistic and planned commercial hunting forays. Snaring is easy, generates high returns, and presents a very low risk to the poacher.
With high densities of wildlife in the GMA bordering the national park, easy access to wire, a large-scale market for selling bush meat and availability of cash in a developing tourist destination, South Luangwa faces enormous problems with snaring that is escalating to critical levels. CSL shares a full-time wildlife veterinarian with the Zambian Carnivore Program, Dr Mwambe Sichande, ensuring our capacity to mobilise veterinary care quickly to snared or injured animals.
The images may not be pretty but we are very proud of the work, and sometimes we can’t hide from reality. We are proud to say that since 2005, over 10,000 snares have been removed from the bush by CSL scouts and that more than 250 animals have been immobilized and treated for snare wounds.
If you’d like to know more about Conservation South Luangwa, you can read the introduction blog here.