Nestled in a small and relatively unknown corner of Zambia lies a beacon of hope that just keeps shining brighter. Simalaha Community Conservancy has grown from strength to strength since the first animal translocation took place in 2013, which put the wheels in motion for the successful nature-based economy that we see today.

The local communities have helped to pave the way for what community-led conservation should look like. With support from Peace Parks Foundation and partners, they have lifted themselves out of poverty and changed their lives by engaging in multiple revenue-generating programmes. This includes the agri-hub project, conservation agriculture, establishing fish sanctuaries and beekeeping, to name a few.  

Peace Parks Foundation’s CEO, Werner Myburgh, sits down with Communication Coordinator, Lésa van Rooyen to chat about what is in store for the Simalaha Community Conservancy and Sioma Ngwezi National Park in 2023.

A Carbon Credit Programme

With just under 10,000 cookstoves already distributed to families in the Simalaha Community Conservancy, 2023 will mark the first year of carbon credit revenue generation. Last year, these nifty inventions, which reduce wood-fuel consumption by 60-70% compared to the traditional open-fire method of cooking, were registered by the Gold Standard for a certified carbon credit programme.

The carbon reduction will be assessed and validated by an external body, and the revenue from credit sales will flow into the Simalaha Community Conservancy Trust, which goes directly to the communities.

Breeding Disease-Free Buffalo

Back in 2018, several Cape Buffalo were brought into Zambia’s Simalaha Community Conservancy from the Waterberg Mountain Plateau National Park.

It is common for buffalo to carry diseases that can decimate livestock populations, threatening the livelihoods of local farmers and communities. Due to the Waterberg area in Central Namibia being located at a high-altitude, these buffalo are one of the few populations that have remained disease-free. Not only this, but these buffalo come from outstanding stock resulting in an excellent horn structure and boss.

With the buffalo sanctuary now having reached capacity, 2023 will allow for the first live buffalo sale to take place to other game reserves within Zambia. The sale of these valuable animals will directly contribute to making Simalaha more financially sustainable.

Tourism In Simalaha

When the annual Zambezi floods have subsided and the cooler, drier winter months take over, Simalaha transforms into a wildlife haven resembling the Serengeti. Its long, golden grasses and endless vast plains are filled with antelope for as far as the eye can see – a sight to behold.

Luckily, visitors can now experience this unique environment for themselves, and what’s more, it can be done on horseback. This unique safari experience is offered by the tourism operator Zambian Horseback Safaris, the first and sole tour operator in the area. We are excited to share that 2023 will see the first bit of tourism revenue flow back into the conservancy.

Sioma Ngwezi National Park

This year will see a 20-year co-management agreement between Peace Parks Foundation, WWF Zambia and the Zambian Government be implemented within Sioma Ngwezi National Park. This marks the establishment of an entity that will oversee the joint management of this protected area. It is an exciting model where governments and NGOs are equal partners in the development of protected areas. It sets the scene for what the future of successful conservation might look like.

Not only this but by pouring more resources and funding into law enforcement within this protected area, will hopefully encourage more wildlife to move back into the landscape. Currently, the area supports around 1 000 elephants, but Peace Parks is hopeful that many more will move here, helping to re-establish this vital wildlife dispersal area.

From Strength To Strength in 2023

Sioma Ngwezi National Park and the Simalaha Community Conservancy lie within the Zambian component the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. By developing and safeguarding these large and important conservation areas for generations to come, lies at the heart of what Peace Parks stands for through conservation at scale.

We are excited to see what 2023 holds for this special area and watch it continue to grow from strength to strength. Make sure to keep watching Peace Parks TV to stay up to date with all of the exciting developments due to unfold.