Nestled in the southwestern corner of Zambia lies an area that few visitors to this spectacular country have ever heard of – the Simalaha Community Conservancy. But despite it not being in most travel guides, this incredible 180 000 hectares of communal land has a rich story to tell. Simalaha’s leading approach to community-led conservation has resulted in the local people lifting themselves out of poverty, transforming their lives for the better. All the while building towards benefitting from a now thriving nature-based economy.

The Story Of Simalaha In A Nutshell

Simalaha Community Conservancy lies within one of six key wildlife dispersal areas in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. This is the biggest terrestrial cross-border conservation system in the world. Due to its size and spanning into Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and, of course, Zambia, it is an essential crossing point in many animals’ ancient migratory routes. Simalaha is a part of this system and plays a fundamental role in helping to rebuild the wildlife populations that once roamed these landscapes and re-establish their migration routes across the cross-border conservation area.

The Transition Of Simalaha Into A Nature-Based Economy

After recognising the important role that Simalaha plays, the senior leadership of the two chiefdoms, the late Chief Sekute of the Kazungula district and Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta of the Sisheke district, agreed that their land be developed as a wildlife conservancy. This opened the door for the conservation of the area and viable natural resource management.

Since 2012, Peace Parks Foundation and partners – with the help of many generous and long-standing donors – have been working alongside the local communities here to help improve their social and economic conditions. A growing tourism industry has also been developed, from which the communities are already directly benefitting through local employment opportunities.

Rewilding In Simalaha

Since 2013 when the first wildlife translocation took place, more than 2000 animals have been introduced to the Conservancy. The most recent translocation saw the introduction of 430 animals of six different species including nyala, zebra and ostrich.

Not only will the addition of these animals help to promote tourism and develop a nature-based economy within the Conservancy, but it also has an ecological benefit. Their dung drops onto the ground, it is then broken down by a host of smaller species that are reliant on the nutrients inside for their survival. The remnants are then absorbed into the ground, providing nutrient-rich manure that will help to fertilise the soil and promote new plant growth.

The wildlife will remain in safe hands thanks to the dedicated protection efforts of trained wildlife scouts from the local communities.

Peace Parks Foundation is grateful for all the support given throughout the years that have helped Simalaha blossom into the sanctuary that it is today – we are excited to see what the future holds.