GRI was proud to participate in the annual clean-up of Lake Itezhi-Tezhi earlier this month, in conjunction with the Department of Fisheries, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), Itezhi Marine and Wildlife Conservation (IMWC) and African Parks.
Bordering Kafue National Park, Lake Itezhi-Tezhi covers an area of approximately 37,000 hectares. Over 800 fishermen use the lake each year, and despite increased awareness and policing, hundreds of monofilament fishing nets are abandoned on the islands at the end of each season. Due to rising and dropping water levels, these broken and discarded nets become caught in trees, posing a threat to birds and marine life. Each year, during Zambia’s annual fishing ban, the local stakeholders committed to preserving this important ecosystem come together to clear and restore this vast waterway.
This year’s collaborative clean up operation was conducted from 11th to 23rd February. Twenty-five community members from the local communities were hired to collect litter from the trees, islands and lakeshore. A staggering 2.8 tonnes of discarded nets and plastic were successfully removed and destroyed. The team was also able to alert law enforcement to some illegal fishing activities, resulting in the rapid deployment of the Marine Anti-Poaching Unit.
GRI’s Human Wildlife Coexistence Ranger, Billy Banda, supported the operation:
“The lake clean-up exercise is a great initiative, it will surely impact wildlife in a positive way. I would really love to see more resources put into this exercise to extend the coverage area to be cleaned up”.
A personal highlight for Billy and many of the rest of the team was the rescue and release of a young crocodile which had become tangled in an abandoned net and would have perished without their swift intervention.
With very special thanks to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation for their generous support to GRI’s Community Outreach Programme.