The Mosi-O-Tunya National Park is one of the smallest of Zambia’s protected areas at only 68 square kilometers, yet it is a major earner for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) due to its proximity to the tourist hub of Livingstone town, with the Victoria Falls being the area’s star attraction. The Park contributes significant funding to DNPW’s budget that helps subsidize less visited parks elsewhere in the country.
In recent years, however, Livingstone has grown rapidly due to high rates of urbanization in the country, and now has a resident population of nearly 140,000 people. Residential areas have expanded to within a few metres of the Park boundary in some parts of the Park. High unemployment in the town and in nearby rural communities is a significant driver of poaching activities, whilst DNPW receive a limited budget from Government to tackle the problem.
ALERT, and its local partner, Wildlife Encounter, provide support to DNPW in a number of areas to assist their management of the Park, including in anti-poaching.
During July, over 90 man hours were contributed to anti-poaching. Working with DNPW wildlife police officers, teams of project staff and volunteers sweep through the Park in search of snares that are being laid to catch animals. One only needs to enjoy a game-drive through this stunningly beautiful Park to understand the issue, as snare wire can be seen attached to grazing impala, buffalo, and even giraffe and elephants.
Following a team briefing, the sweepers line up and walk through the park, locating and removing snares as they go.
Unfortunately, we were too late for one buffalo that had died in a snare, however throughout July we were able to remove 153 snares, hopefully ensuring other animals do not fall to the same fate.