On the 8th of November staff and volunteers from ALERT, Lion Encounter Livingstone and African Impact joined forces with 30 local high school pupils to clean up the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park.
Each and every day ALERT and Lion Encounter staff are lucky enough to commute to the beautiful park for work. However, when driving along the main road, piles of litter can often be seen strewn amongst the vegetation.
The Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park is Zambia’s second smallest park covering just 23 square kilometres, but is home to an array of wildlife species and the famous Victoria Falls. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area attracts thousands of visitors every month. Unfortunately they - and others en route to border posts beyond the park - bring with them a lot of litter, which often ends up carelessly discarded along the roadside. It was therefore decided to give the road a ‘sprucing up’ before the heavy rains begin and the tall grass hides the plastic bottles and food trays.
With gloves and rubbish bags at the ready, four teams set out from the park gates sweeping the road sides and bush for litter. Within the first hour a staggering 40 bags were filled to the brim! The clean-up teams were gratefully accompanied by cooler temperatures, keeping energy and enthusiasm levels high. The occasional sighting of giraffe and impala also provided opportunities for breaks to watch the herds quietly graze, as they looked back bemusedly at the curious litter pickers.
By 4:30pm, the teams had covered around seven square kilometres of ground, filling over 80 bags of plastic bottles, aluminium cans, plastic bags, food trays, cigarette butts, beer bottles, shredded tyre rubber, car parts and more.
The rubbish bags were loaded onto cars and taken to the Livingstone dump, leaving the park a much cleaner place. The dedicated litter pickers were then treated to refreshments by the Zambezi River where a ‘friendly’ hippo has taken residence. This large water horse has apparently been enjoying long naps in the shallows of the picnic site, completely un-phased by passing tourists and safari guides. He certainly provided the children with a wonderful end to their day in the park.
The litter pick was such a success, that plans are underway to make it a monthly activity with the help of the Zambian Wildlife Authority. A second litter pick is also to be held in Livingstone town this month to clean up the streets and encourage the local town residents to become actively involved in keeping their homes litter free.