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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

14 Travel Zambia November 2009 Places Places Soaking up the rays Africa - the so- called ' dark continent' - enjoys 51% of earth's most concentrated sunlight. No surprise then that solar energy is capable of providing for all of the continent's energy needs. A pioneering project, driven by Mfuwe Lodge and the Bushcamp Company in South Luangwa, is aiming to make the most of this. The scourge of ivory poaching continues to affl ict many African countries, including Zambia. Staff from the Lower Zambezi Conservation Trust ( LZCT) came across this elephant bull in a sorry state; the magnifi cent animal was suffering from gunshot wounds to the stomach that had developed into massive abscesses. After sedation and treatment from Dr Ian Parsons he was soon back on all fours and has since made a full recovery. The Lower Zambezi Conservation Trust is working in partnership with the Zambian Wildlife Authority and local Chiawa community to manage the Eastern Chiawa Game Management Area ( GMA). This pilot project, known as the Chiawa Partnership Park, is located along the western boundary of Lower Zambezi National Park. It aims to involve the local community in the active conservation of their area while generating income from tourism and other sustainable activities. Its success should help ensure that ivory poaching becomes a thing of the past. For details email: info@ lzct. org A jumbo task The Mfuwe Solar Cooker Project was the brainchild of Bushcamp guide Manda Chisanga, who won the Bill Morrison Guide of the Year award run by UK-based Wanderlust magazine. Manda had heard about solar cookers from visiting guests and decided to spend his prize money on something that would make a real difference to the community. The 15,000 people who inhabit the Mfuwe district on the edge of South Luangwa National Park come into daily confl ict with elephants as they collect fi rewood for their families, sometimes with tragic consequences. This problem is increasing as the area becomes further deforested, forcing fi rewood collectors to walk further each day - even into the park itself. Mfuwe Lodge, supported by Wanderlust magazine, SunFire Solutions and Solar Cookers for Africa, aims to raise enough funds to introduce 500- 1000 parabolic solar cookers and fuel- effi cient stoves. This will reduce the need for fi rewood by between 50- 60%, thus making life safer for the community while also preserving the natural habitat that brings tourism and employment opportunities. The project has already placed 31 dishes in the village and any of Zambia's newest solar chefs will happily confi rm that ' food cooked with the sun just tastes better'. It's good for the planet too: recent studies of ' dust' in the higher atmosphere reveal that cooking using fossil fuels makes a signifi cant contribution to global warming. " The simple, cheap and speedy distribution of solar cookers and fuel- effi cient stoves could reduce global smog levels by a third within a year," says Crosby Menzies of SunFire Solutions. The Mfuwe Solar Cooker project is managed by Solar Cookers for Africa, an NGO dedicated to highlighting and co- ordinating solar cooker activities around the continent. Find out more at www. solarcookersforafrica. com Solar dishes offer a more sustainable energy supply to this Mfuwe community CROSBY MENZIES ( x2)