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12 Travel Zambia November 2009 BANGWEULU SET TO BECOME ' ZAMBIA'S OKAVANGO' The Bangweulu Swamps is a wetland paradise, home to breeding shoebills and huge herds of endemic black lechwe. Yet for decades the region has suffered from a lack of adequate resources and protection. All that may be about to change, with the creation of Chikuni Community Partnership Park. Stephen Cunliffe spoke to Ian Stevenson of African Parks Network, the new project manager. What is a community partnership park? It is a pioneering concept whereby a protected area belongs to the community rather than the state. It has a joint board, comprising members of the community, the Zambian Wildlife Authority ( ZAWA) and a private sector body. That private sector body - in this case African Parks Network ( APN) - handles day- to- day management. How big is this new protected area? The Chikuni Community Partnership Park covers 2900km2 and the surrounding game management area another 3100km2. We plan to manage it all as a single conservation unit. The CCPP will cater to photographic tourism, while the GMA will earn revenue from controlled trophy hunting. Where does all the money come from? The initial set- up costs are estimated at US$ 1.4 million per year, decreasing by more than a third once the project is up and running. The UNDP and WWF Netherlands have pledged funding for the fi rst three years, while donors and tourism will provide longer- term fi nancial support. Initially, ZAWA, the Community Resource Board ( CRB) and the six local chiefs who have allocated land will share 25% of the revenue. Is much wildlife still left? The black lechwe population has shown incredible resilience in the face of heavy poaching: there are now thought to be over 100,000, along with 1000 tsessebe and an unknown number of sitatunga. Large game has been severely depleted, but a few buffalo, elephant, zebra and sable remain. Bangweulu is also designated an Important Bird Area ( IBA), with such high- profi le species as shoebill and wattled crane among its prolifi c birdlife. Will wildlife populations rebound naturally or will you have to restock? We have laid out a seven- year restocking programme that will begin in 2010 with the release of cheetah. A 20,000ha sanctuary is being mooted to maximise the success of the reintroduced game and to enhance future tourism. Ultimately, we want to see the return of all the region's original wildlife, including lion, leopard, elephant and black rhino. Have you encountered any problems? With 90,000 people living in the area, many of whom rely on subsistence fi shing, our greatest challenge is getting local fi shermen to adopt more sustainable practices - and to understand that fi sh stocks are a fi nite resource. Long fi shing dykes and improvised gill nets are devastating the fi sh populations on which people depend. How will you address these problems? The idea is to use a ' carrot- and- stick' approach. The anti- poaching effort will be expanded, with a force of 24 ZAWA offi cers augmented by 54 newly- trained village scouts. APN will provide local jobs. Villagers will still have access to the park, but there will be increased education and monitoring of fi shing practices. They will also receive revenue via community development projects, such as beekeeping and fi shponds. Other partners, donors and NGOs will help in areas such as education, health, HIV/ AIDs and gender. Where do you see the project ten years from now? African Parks have signed a 20- year management agreement with an option to renew for a further 20 years. Bangweulu should be fi nancially, ecologically and socially sustainable within fi ve to ten years. By then, I would want poaching eradicated, sustainable fi shing practices in place, wildlife populations growing and local support for the CRB. High- profi le tourism operators should be involved, which will generate revenue and bring local benefi ts. If Bangweulu can realise its potential, then I believe it could easily become Zambia's Okavango. Find out more at www. african- parks. org Places Places STEPHEN CUNLIFFE ( x2) Ian Stevenson

November 2009 Travel Zambia 13 CAPITAL GAINS. WILDLIFE Visitors to Zambia no longer have to head for the wilds of Kafue or Luangwa to enjoy the country's spectacular wildlife, reports Nawa Mutumweno. A new park on the outskirts of Lusaka is set to bring big- game thrills to the very doorstep of the capital. Lusaka Park is located 15km from the city's central business district, southeast of Chilenje township. At nearly 7000 hectares ( 70km2), it is slightly bigger than Livingstone's celebrated Mosi- oa- Tunya National Park, one of the country's wildlife jewels. This exciting project, which is scheduled to be open on 24 October 2009 by President Rupiah Banda, is the result of more than three years of planning and collaboration between the Zambia Wildlife Authority ( ZAWA) and the Forestry Department. It will help protect wildlife from illegal encroachment and such destructive activities as charcoal burning, mining and quarrying, all of which have taken their toll on the environment. The park already boasts a rich variety of landscapes and habitats, including wetlands, woodland and natural springs. Its biodiversity will be boosted by the introduction of larger game, including wildebeest, hartebeest, bushbuck, sable, zebra, lion and white rhino. The park will also provide a sanctuary for injured, abandoned or orphaned animals. ZAWA is currently constructing and maintaining roads, loops and boundary fences - and will soon be adding offi ces, a conference centre and a lodge with a variety of accommodation. Many of these facilities will be leased to private investors, providing substantial revenue for the park. Other attractions will include camping, boat cruising and horse riding, and there are also plans to stage cultural performances and art exhibitions. " Lusaka has had little worth talking about in terms of tourist attractions," observed Wilfred Moonga, ZAWA Public Relations Offi cer. " Therefore, this park will make a big difference as a key tourism hub." Places This last year has seen a remarkable increase in sightings of large predators in the Bangweulu region, reports ecologist Frank Willems of Kasanka Trust. Years of conservation work have boosted population of antelope in Kasanka National Park, while the endemic black lechwe of the Bangweulu Swamps have increased at least fi vefold since the 70s. Until very recently there was no indication that the region's predators were profi ting from this increase in their prey. In the last year, however, spotted hyenas have been seen frequently during game drives in the Bangweulu Swamps, with a simultaneous increase in records from Kasanka National Park and Lavushi Manda National Park. Meanwhile lions - thought to have become extinct in the whole Bangweulu Basin - also seem to have been faring well: both 2008 and 2009 have brought reliable reports of a family group in the Mutinondo area; recent survey work in Lavushi Manda reported up to fi ve Lions; and this August saw reports of individuals in both Bangweulu Swamps and Kasanka. With leopard sightings also on the increase, it seems that the larger predators might be on their way back. Hunters return White rhino: one of many game species that will fi nd a new home in the park MIKE UNWIN Lion tracks at Kasanka Spotted hyena at Bangweulu Lusaka Park is one of several major public private partnerships ( PPPs) that ZAWA has embraced in order to boost its tourism income. And it will also provide other vital services, serving as an educational and research centre, and protecting the capital's water catchment area. So the whistle- stop tourist, with no time to tour Zambia's far- fl ung national parks, need not worry: the wilderness is ready and waiting, just a few minutes' drive from Lusaka. Details at www. zawa. org. zm