Moving, or translocating, wildlife from one part of Africa to another is always a tricky business, with no guarantee that the animals will all survive the process, despite every precaution taken. That is why seeing these red lechwe arrive in such numbers is a heart-warming sight. Some are a little wary of their new home, but others bound out into their new territory.
Red lechwe are medium-sized antelopes with elongated hooves, which is an adaptation to the wet and soggy habitat in which they like to live. They will fit in well with populations of other browsers in Simalaha.
Here in the Simalaha Community Conservancy, the new arrivals bring huge excitement. Every buffalo and red lechwe represents progress towards a more secure future for the land and its people. Back in 2012, the senior leadership of the two chiefdoms (that are now joined under the Simalaha Community Conservancy) agreed that their land be developed as a wildlife conservancy, to allow for conservation of the area and viable natural resource management, but also promote income generation through nature-based economies and tourism opportunities.
The conservancy is fundamental to re-establishing wildlife populations and their migration routes in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) – 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 the beginning – with a focus on improving the social, economic and environmental circumstances of the region.
Since then, many translocations have brought wildlife to settle here, in protected areas. Every wildlife release brings many from the community to witness. Indunas from the Sekuti chiefdom and trust members from the community receive the 50 buffalo that arrive from Namibia.
The Conservancy comprises 180,000 ha of communal land and lies within one of six key wildlife dispersal areas in KAZA, namely the Chobe Zambezi dispersal area that reaches from Chobe National Park in Botswana to Kafue National Park in Zambia.