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18 Travel Zambia November 2008PeoplePeopleVakachaVakachaHabitatHabitatNkaniNkaniCultureCulture African Parks expapands Africa Parks has made a major impact in Zambia through its pioneering management of Liuwa Plain National Park. Now this innovative organisation is poised to expand its park management programme. Stephen Cunliffe reports on what this could mean for Zambia's wildlife – and for its visitors. African Parks was established in 2000 as the first private institution to combine conservation expertise with a commercial approach to park management. The terms of its mandate leaves it directly responsible for its results. Thus it does not simply offer support to state conservation agencies, but gets stuck in with a hands- on approach. For the last five years Liuwa Plain has been African Park's flagship project in Zambia. Here the organisation has followed its now- standard approach: to rehabilitate a neglected park and, using sound business principles, to manage it as an economic entity. This approach attracts reputable ecotourism operators who bring their skills, capital and marketing clout towards developing a sustainable tourism infrastructure. All revenues, such as entrance and concession fees, are retained at park level to help wean it from donor support and become financially self- sustaining. Critical to this recipe is the local community. African Parks recognises that people who live around the park must see tangible benefits if they are to offer it their support. Each project thus has a local capacity- building dimension, providing community conservation, training and education programmes. Parks typically employ 80– 250 permanent staff members in management alone, with many more finding temporary work. Now Zambia looks set to benefit from a redoubling of African Parks' commitment to the country. Discussions are under way with government over three potential new projects: the Bangweulu Wetland Park ( consisting of the new Chikuni Partnership Park and the adjacent Bangweulu Game Management Area), the Lower Zambezi National Park and West Lunga National Park. Further negotiations are still required before formal partnership agreements can be signed. But the Zambian Wildlife Authority ( ZAWA) has had five years to assess the Liuwa project, and its invitation to African Parks to expand their Zambia programme suggests that it likes what it has seen. Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks, believes that four projects of this scale are probably all that the organisation can handle within a single country at present. African Parks' vision for Zambia is to ensure that these parks are effectively rehabilitated, restocked and managed. This will both shore up their conservation value and will enhance their long- term attractiveness to reputable tourism operators – thereby contributing to the country's broader economy. Such ambitious plans will require substantial investments of money, time and effort. But if the reputation and track record of African Parks are anything to go by, then you can rest assured that these wonderful parks – such vital components of Zambia's natural heritage – will be in very capable hands. Visit Liuwa Plain Robin Pope Safaris is the first major operator to offer safaris into Liuwa Plain since the park's rehabilitation. The safaris, led by Robin Pope himself, include a three- hour boat transfer across the vast Zambezi floodplain. Find out more at www. robinpopesafaris. net STEPHEN CUNLIFFE Blue wildebeest on Liuwa Plain

November 2008 Travel Zambia 19 Catctch a giraffe Giraffes, it may not surprise you, are notoriously difficult animals to capture. Rachel McRobb, CEO of the South Luangwa Conservation Society, recently learned the procedure on a training course in Zimbabwe. And she was soon called into action when a snared giraffe was reported at nearby Flatdogs camp ? ( ? ? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ) ? www. flatdogscamp. com) ? ) . Chimfunshi under threat Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage is desperately in need of funds, reports Lesley Thomson. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? For more than 25 years this unique sanctuary, located near Chingola in the Copperbelt, has rehabilitated homeless chimpanzees. Many arrive in pitiful condition, victims of bars, circuses and the bush- meat trade. They cannot be returned to the wild, and the cost of their daily upkeep is considerable. Chimfunshi is currently limping along thanks to Konkola Copper Mines, who pay a portion of staff wages, the Chingola community, who help with fuel and food, and the dedication of the staff. But without further funding it faces imminent closure, effectively condemning more than 100 chimpanzees to starvation. If you can help, please contact Tony Rauch, Project Manager, Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust: chimps@ coppernet. zm or chimps@ talkingtravel. co. za " We went to look at him and found him in a pretty sorry state," reports Rachel. " The snare was just above his front foot and was obviously causing him a lot of pain." Rachel has darted many animals before – lions, elephants, you name it – but never a giraffe: " They are the most difficult," she explains, " due to their great size and long neck, and all the associated complications when they are immobilised." Immobilising a giraffe involves lassoing the enormous beast and lowering it to the ground. To get this part right, the SLCS team first had to practise on one another: " We spent the whole morning going over the procedure," reports Rachel, " and in the afternoon felt confident enough to carry it out." The team darted the enormous animal with a heavy dose of drugs to bring him down as quickly as possible. They then immediately gave him the antidote, and roped his legs so that they could get to work without being kicked in the face. Next they removed the snare, which had worked its way deep into the foot, and scrubbed the wound to remove dead and rotten flesh. Finally they administered a heavy dose of antibiotics and anti- inflammatories. The whole procedure took just 30 minutes, after which the ropes were removed, along with the earplugs and eye cover. The giraffe got straight back to its feet, seemingly unfazed. Rachel was delighted: " The whole procedure went perfectly and was a great team effort." Find out more about the South Luangwa Conservation Society and ? ? k ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? make a contribution to their valuable work at ? www. slcs- zambia. org. Some people just get lucky. Nellie and John van Herk, from Holland, were on their first- ever safari when they witnessed the rare sight of a giraffe giving birth. The couple, who were staying at Wildlife Camp ( www. wildlifecamp- zambia. com) in South Luangwa, came upon the scene during an afternoon game drive. " We watched everything until the baby was born," reports Nellie. " Also we saw its attempts to stand up, though eventually it got so dark that we could not see it walking away." These pictures capture the amazing spectacle. " It goes without saying that this was a great experience, which we shall never forget." Verticalerticalerticalerticalerticalerticalertical exitit Howto... Lasso practice back at base ( top); removing the snare ( above left); good to go ( above right). SLCS 3) NELLIE & JOHN VAN HERK ( 3) LESLEY THOMSON