Empowering Rangers on the frontline of conservation
The wildlife and protected areas of Zambia and Africa suffer ever increasing threats from poaching and encroachment whilst underfunded and under resourced law enforcement struggles to combat these threats.
To address this, GRI's Resource Protection Programme (RPP) empowers government and community Rangers to better secure Zambia's protected wildlife areas, via support to anti-poaching and firefighting teams. GRI supports operations with essential equipment and supplies, delivers training to ensure that Rangers have the skills to operate effectively and safely, and provides crucial welfare support for them and their families.
SPECIAL ANTI-POACHING UNIT
The Special Anti-Poaching Unit (SAPU) was established as an intelligence led, rapid response unit, with a strike anywhere capability. The unit aims to directly target wildlife crimes in order to disrupt poaching and trafficking networks. SAPU has an embedded intelligence unit to identify the threats to Zambia’s wildlife, and it has demonstrated its capability as a specialised unit to date:
670 poachers & traffickers arrested
15 live pangolins recovered
350 illegal firearms seized
360kgs of ivory seized
SAPU currently deploys 3 full time teams. SAPU North operating from Hook Bridge, and SAPU South and SAPU KAZA, both operating from Musa Gate in southern Kafue. In addition to providing rapid response capabilities versus wildlife crimes in and around Kafue National Park, SAPU South also has the mandate to provide security to the Kafue Release Area of the GRI-Elephant Orphanage Project. SAPU KAZA extends the reach of SAPU deeper into the Zambian section of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
SAPU North and South are supported by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, and SAPU KAZA by Space for Giants. Additional developments at Musa Gate and Hook Bridge have been supported by Beit Trust and WWF.
CONNECTED CONSERVATION INITIATIVE
Established with support from GRI, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife's Marine Anti-Poaching Unit, has been patrolling on and around Lake Itezhi-Tezhi since 2016, in order to control illegal fishing and prevent poachers entering Kafue National Park across the lake.
In 2019, WWF launched the Connected Conservation Initiative (CCI), which is a GRI-WWF partnership with CISCO Systems and FLIR Systems, and has installed a virtual fence of networked thermal imaging cameras across the key trafficking routes of Lake Itezhi-Tezhi.
Monitored by DNPW and GRI from the newly developed Musa Command Post, CCI will use these innovative technologies to detect and disrupt illegal activities on the lake.
CCI is supported with strike team capability by Marine Anti-Poaching Unit and SAPU South.
The USAID supported Community Wildlife Protection Project (CWP) commenced in February 2019 and is being implemented in the Mumbwa and Namwala Game Management Areas (GMAs) by GRI.
The project goal is to decrease poaching and other illegal activities, in order to improve and sustain benefits from wildlife conservation through law enforcement support to community institutions in the Greater Kafue Landscape.
CWP has recruited and trained 22 new community scouts from the local communities and now supports 34 scouts in total from Mweengwa Gate, which has been redeveloped under the project. As well as providing vehicles, kit and equipment for Mweengwa Anti-Poaching Unit, CWP has also added a digital radio repeater at Puku Pan Hill. CWP began patrols in September 2019.
RUFUNSA CONSERVATION PROJECT
The Rufunsa Conservation Project commenced in 2019 to support the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in the resource protection of the Rufunsa Game Management Area (RGMA).
RGMA is an area of 300,000 hectares (800,000 acres) on the eastern boundary of the Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP). This GMA provides an important ‘buffer’ for the LZNP and acts as an essential corridor between the Luangwa and Zambezi eco-systems. RGMA is a crucial Transfrontier Area being the international border between Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
GRI have entered into an agreement between DNPW, the Mburuma Community Resource Board (CRB), the Mphuka CRB, the Mpanshya CRB and Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) for the resource management and community development of this important eco-system through the engagement, training and operational support of 20 new Community Scouts from the area – 10 GRI and 10 CLZ scouts who are now mobilised and are operational in the field in RGMA and the eastern portion of the LZNP. GRI received donor support for this project from the Charlie Ross coordinated group of the Janotta/Pearsall Family, Gary & Veronica Silberberg, Geoff Tennican and Jennifer Durnican, Mark Headley and Chris Pehl, through the Endangered Species Fund.
In 2018/19 Zambia suffered a severe drought and as a result significant Human Wildlife Conflict occurred, especially with elephant struggling to find water sources and therefore being forced to drink from the Zambezi and Luangwa rivers in areas of high human habitation. This resulted in the tragic deaths of 3 villagers in the Mphuka Chiefdom. With the approval of DNPW and the traditional authorities, and with financial assistance from Toyota Zambia Ltd, four inland water sources were excavated. These springs retain water to date and are providing important water resources for both elephant and other wildlife in the inland areas of RGMA.