Zambia has 20 National Parks. Two of them are very small – one in Lusaka and one in Livingstone. These parks are used for day trips and to help in the education of children.
Of the other 18 some are known worldwide – South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue. Of the others, some are growing in popularity but some are stranded in limbo. We look at each park on separate pages.
Over the years outside help has come in to assist ZamParks in the conservation of our wildlife and the environment in which they live. Prior to that, parks were largely left unattended and poaching was rife. Unlike some other countries in the region Zambia did not encourage tourism so the importance of its natural heritage was not realised. Now that tourism is seen as one of the major players in any country’s economy, the government is encouraging help from International and local NGOs.
Politically, the government cannot be seen to be spending money to protect wildlife when there are so many pressing needs of the people. Conservation is an expensive undertaking and it is not something that can be achieved in a few years. It is at least a 20-year plan.
Zambia has its famous parks which now teem with wildlife but there are others which are still waking up from the doldrums of the past. There are, though, major attributes of our parks – no visitor is going to queue up with another 20 vehicles to watch a lion; there are no tar roads; a GPS is essential equipment; there are no picnic sites or loos between camps.
Transfrontier Conservation Areas
TFCAs are Transfrontier Conservation Areas. Each TFCA includes land which can be park, conservancy, forest, and village; and they cross international borders. The idea behind these conservation areas is to bring governments together to combine their efforts in protecting the environment.
For a long time now it has been noted that, as human settlement has increased, wildlife is becoming confined to a limited range. This puts pressure on the environment and also confines the gene pool of the animals.
In order to redress this situation, Peace Parks Foundation is promoting cooperation between countries to take down fences both literally and mentally to allow free movement of wildlife and people.
Kavango-Zambezi Conservation Area (KAZA)
Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area is known as KAZA
KAZA is the size of France and takes in parts of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. The map shows the parks and game reserves which are included in KAZA; the yellow areas are other environmentally-protected areas like safari areas, game management areas and forests.
KAZA is a very ambitious project which aims to bring together the governments of five countries to protect the environment and the wildlife which relies on it. The project started in 2006 by the Peace Parks Foundation and long strides have been made, mostly political with all five countries totally committed to it.
Since its inception we have seen several conservancies set up in traditional areas between the parks, led by the chiefs who own the land. These conservancies are vital to the free movement of wildlife.
A lot of work has been done in Sioma Ngwezi National Park to reduce the poaching; the poaching being a result of the war in Angola. It will soon become a park to visit but, at the moment, there are no facilities.
Land mines have been removed from Liuana and surrounding areas in Angola.
One of the main focuses for wildlife has been on elephant corridors. Botswana and Zimbabwe have too many elephant and the environment is being damaged by them. Since KAZA we have seen an increase of elephant movements from Chobe into Namibia and then over to Angola and Zambia. Recently a large herd was spotted in Sioma Ngwezi, an area which had not seen elephants for decades.
The KAZA Visa for visitors to the region is a direct result of negotiations instigated by Peace Parks. The visa allows visitors to move between the countries without paying visas at each country border – Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Traditional leaders met for the first time from four of the countries. Photograph from Peace Parks.
Malawi-Zambia Conservation Area
The Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area started in 2004. The TFCA is over 30,000 sq km, about the size of Belgium. Nyika National Park is the highest park in Zambia with montane grassland, some evergreen forests and can be covered in mist. Lukusuzi, to the east of South Luangwa is mostly miombo (two-storey) forests and grassland.
The wildlife includes over 100 mammal species. On the Malawi side the parks have similar wildlife but also include some cultural heritage including rock paintings and traditional iron smelting kilns.
Development up to date has been mostly in infrastructure development with rangers being trained and housed. Recently Peace Parks organized the relocation of elephants into the TFCA on the Malawi side.
Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Conservation Area
The Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Transfrontier Conservation Area is over 17,000 sq km – about the same size as Swaziland. It joins Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia and Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe.
Dividing the two countries is the Zambezi River. The Zambezi River runs through a valley with the Zambezi Escarpment rising both sides. It is an extremely beautiful area with plenty of wildlife and popular with visitors. Mana Pools was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 1984.
The two governments have yet to sign the agreement to formalise the TFCA.
Liuwa Plains-Mussuma Conservation Area
The Liuwa Plains-Mussuma TFCA is still in its early stages. The Angola government declared Mussuma a National Park in preparation of formalizing the TFCA but that seems to be as far as we have got. This TFCA is an important development between Zambia and Angola. The wildebeest migration takes place between the two countries and it is important that the herds are monitored and safe.
The area is over 14,000 sq km – about the size of Connecticut in the US.