Comprising 180 000 ha of communal land, the Simalaha Community Conservancy is fundamental to re-establishing wildlife populations and their migration routes in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area – the biggest terrestrial cross-border conservation system in the world – connecting 36 protected areas across Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Peace Parks Foundation, through funding from the Swedish Postcode Lottery, MAVA Fondation pour la Nature (MAVA), COmON Foundation, and various other donors, have been working alongside the people of Simalaha since 2012 with a focus on improving the social, economic and environmental circumstances of the region. Taking ownership of their own destiny, the Sesheke and Sekhute Chiefdoms are following a community-led approach to improve basic human rights – such as access to food, health, livelihood opportunities and education – by responsibly managing and protecting natural resources and wildlife.
In 2012, the senior leadership of the two chiefdoms agreed that their land be developed as a wildlife conservancy, allowing for conservation of the area and viable natural resource management, as well as promoting income generation through nature-based economies and tourism opportunities.
A key to this future is the translocation of wildlife into the reserve, and Peace Parks are partners are proud of what has been achieved so far. To boost the meagre stock of wildlife that was present in 2012, at the start of the conservancy’s life, Peace Parks has been translocating wildlife successfully for the past nine years. This has seen a staggering increase in the numbers of grazers and browsers with over 900 animals such as red lechwe, puku and impala brought into the region. The numbers of zebra and wildebeest have also increased by well over a 100 of each species. Eland, sable, Lichenstein hartebeest and giraffe also now roam the land, along with nearly 300 buffalo, one of Africa’s Big Five, that were translocated successfully over the past four years.
This increase in biodiversity is key to the sustainable development of the conservancy. But this is not where it ends. Translocations will continue, with more planned over the years to bring in the apex predators and boost the area to become a thriving ecosystem as well as a successful generator of income for the region and communities.