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May 2009 Travel Zambia 13 People Habitat Habitat Nkani Nkani Alison Cockerell, manager with Shenton Safaris ( www. shentonsafaris. com), has come up with a bright idea to raise funds for conservation. The South Luangwa Conservation Society ( SLCS) conducts regular patrols to remove wire snares set by poachers around the park. These snares were once simply kept under lock and key. Alison, however, is now working with villagers from Mfuwe to design animal sculptures from the recovered wire. The sculptures are attached to handmade elephant- dung cards, which other villagers make using a combination of elephant dung and shredded recycled paper donated by the local safari lodges. The cards are sold in Mfuwe, Lusaka and Livingstone, with all profi ts going directly to SLCS. Leonard Kalio, safari guide at Baines' River Camp ( www. bainesrivercamp. com), is concerned about the loss of native tree species in the Lower Zambezi valley. Many, including such statuesque giants as winterthorns and sycamore fi gs, have been cut down to use as timber or fi rewood. Their loss has a major impact on the wider ecosystem, as well as creating environmental problems such as soil erosion. To address this problem, Leonard has set up a nursery behind the workshop at Baines'. Here he lovingly tends the seedlings that he has grown from pods and seeds collected in the surrounding bush. The saplings can then be transplanted back into the local community as they mature. Recipe: Bush bakery with Edson Zimba Edson Zimba works in the kitchen at Crocodile Camp in South Luangwa ( www. remoteafrica. com). This is a walking trails camp, with all supplies brought in on foot, so bread must be baked on site. No problem: a bush oven produces the perfect loaf. Edson explained the secret to Mike Unwin. Ingredients for bread 1 kg fl our 2 teaspoons dried yeast 1 litre water salt to taste Directions Dig a square hole in the ground 60x30cm wide by 20cm deep. Combine your bread mix and pour into a greased baking pan. Stack fi rewood in the hole and light. Wait for fi re to burn down and bread to rise (± 20 minutes). Remove coals from fi re and place bread pan in hole. Place metal baking tray over hole and cover with coals from fi re. Leave for 45 minutes. Remove loaf; eat while still warm. Bread baked in a ground oven has an excellent crust, as it is heated from above. This technique works well for cakes too. Wire tapper Trees company Making the paper ALISON COCKERELLSHENTON SAFARISMIKE UNWIN x 4 MIKE UNWIN X 2

14 Travel Zambia May 2009 Zambezi River N TZ 075150 miles 070140210 km Sioma Ngwezi NP Kazungula Habitat Habitat Nkani Nkani Wild West back in business Sioma Ngwezi has long been a ' sleeping' national park. Decades of unrest and neglect have taken their toll on the wildlife, and today this wild western corner of Zambia seldom features on any tourist itinerary. But all that may be about to change, reports Stephen Cunliffe. Recent history has not been kind to Sioma Ngwezi. First came SWAPO from Namibia, setting up their headquarters in the heart of the national park and living off the land. Next came the UNITA rebels from Angola who, desperate for food and ivory to fund their civil war, plundered its resources. Finally, when drought struck the region, the local Lozi people also turned to this beleaguered sanctuary to sustain themselves, and a thriving bushmeat trade developed. While wildlife populations may have plummeted, the habitat remains healthy and the park's potential is vast. Sioma Ngwezi is Zambia's third largest national park, measuring some 5000km2. Together with the surrounding 35,000km2 West Zambezi Game Management Area, it forms one continuous conservation area that stretches as far north as Liuwa Plain. Moreover the region remains a crucial corridor in the migratory route of elephants from nearby Botswana, Namibia and Angola. This massive migrant elephant population has attracted the interest of the Peace Parks Foundation ( PPF), which promotes cross- border initiatives that restore large contiguous habitats. One of its planned ' mega parks' is the enormous 280,000km2 Kavango- Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area ( KAZA TFCA). This will span fi ve countries when completed, including southwestern Zambia, making it the largest single conservation area on earth. Over US$ 100 million has already been allocated to this ambitious scheme. Meanwhile, two passionate individuals are dedicated to bringing back the tourists to Sioma Ngwezi. Gavin Johnson, an ex- Springbok fullback, has lived in the area for 14 years. Now fl uent in the local Lozi language, he is an avid birder who waxes lyrical about the beauty of this wilderness. Gavin currently owns two camps on the upper Zambezi, but plans to acquire three more inside the national park as soon as the Peace Parks' plans take off. By sponsoring a neighbouring school and clinic, he is already contributing to the area's development. STEPHEN CUNLIFFE STEPHEN CUNLIFFE The upper Zambezi seen from Sioma River Camp, just west of the national park. STEPHEN CUNLIFFE Pied kingfi sher Hans Aaskov has recently joined Gavin. After retiring from the Danish embassy, Hans sold his house and poured everything he had into his lifelong dream of building Sioma Camp. He has already demonstrated some novel ways of fostering a local conservation ethic, including offering cash rewards to locals for wildlife sightings, which helps to cultivate a perception of wildlife as more valuable alive than dead. Hans believes local people must be offered a realistic alternative to poaching and willingly employs reformed poachers. Both these far- sighted individuals are acutely aware of the area's potential and foresee a great future for Sioma Ngwezi. With the park's imminent inclusion in the KAZA TFCA, it seems their dreams may soon become reality. A range of accommodation is available at Mutemwa Lodge ( www. mutemwa. com) and Sioma Camp ( www. siomacamp. com). Both camps offer drives into the national park, plus bush walks, tiger fi shing and outings to Ngonye Falls. African fi nfoot