August 2012, North Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), through its North Luangwa Conservation Project (NLCP) and support from other donors, continues to build capacity to the North Luangwa ecosystem and equip the local wildlife authority with the managers it needs to maintain the integrity of this vast wilderness for future generations.
Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Senior Wildlife Police Officer Pumulo Nyambe who has done a great job protecting and managing the Chifunda Block that provides protection to the park’s eastern boundary has just enrolled at the Mweka African Wildlife College in Tanzania to do a 2-year diploma in wildlife management. He is being sponsored by Tom Behanick from the US.
Moreover, ZAWA Senior Wildlife Police Officer Justin Chisoko, who was selected by FZS-NLCP in 2010 to attend the same course at Mweka Tanzania and was sponsored by the FZS Grizmek Education Fund has just returned and will take over the management of the Chifunda block. Justin showed immense promise in the area before he was sponsored and he will provide the area with the leadership required.
Lastly, Senior Wildlife Police Officer, Stanley Mainde, who has been a long serving officer in the North Luangwa ecosystem, has just commenced a short course in Wildlife Management at the African Wildlife College Mweka Tanzania. Stanley is sponsored by the Dallas Safari Club. “When Stanley returns at the end of 2012 we hope he will take over a sector of the North Luangwa National Park himself with the skills and confidence he will have gained. The sponsorship of ZAWA staff through tertiary education is a good motivational tool to the Law Enforcement Team, many others aspire to be sponsored and will get there, the fact that these officers return as managers within the ecosystem is essential for the long-term protection of this unique wilderness area”, said Ed Sayer, project leader for Frankfurt Zoological Society in North Luangwa.
These students and future leaders of North Luangwa are part of FZS’ long term effort to build capacity within the wildlife authority. In May 2012, Elias Chiweshe, joined the Kenya Wildlife Training Service Institute, sponsored by the Grizmek Fund to undertake a Diploma in Wildlife Management. Elias was a scout trained in North Luangwa and was amongst the first scouts trained as rhino monitoring officers as part of the rhino introduction project in 2003. He became the head of the rhino monitoring unit in 2011 and over the years has developed a vast botanical knowledge that the project has relied upon in order to conduct rhino browse surveys. Elias has also co-authored three browse surveys conducted by international rhino browse experts. “Elias has shown huge potential to develop himself over the years, in 2009 he was one of the top students in the US Fish & Wildlife Services sponsored Scout Paramilitary In-service Training course. He has a good combination of skills that we hope will enable him to lead the rhino monitoring unit into the future.”
North Luangwa is home to the only population of black rhino in Zambia and part of a vast wilderness area bigger than Portugal. Frankfurt Zoological Society began a reintroduction project for black rhinos to North Luangwa in 2003, after this species had been declared nationally extinct in 1998. The ranger force and park managers are essential for protecting the black rhino population against an increasingly well-organised poaching surge.
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