In 2015 the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) which is now called the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in Zambia, commissioned an aerial survey of wildlife. Funding was provided by Vulcan Incorporation as part of the Great Elephant Census, a Paul G. Allen Family Foundation project.
The report states that one area, the Sioma Ngwezi at the very bottom of Zambia, close to the borders of Namibia and Angola indicates a declining population. The good news is that the Luangwa population should be increasing which we attribute to the vigilance and dedication of Conservation South Luangwa and the support they receive from Africa Hope Fund and other international large donors and local lodges.
One area covered by the Zambia Carnivore Programme, Kafue National Park, as well as the Lower Zambezi which borders Zimbabwe, another troubled country when it comes to wildlife conservation, are at a delicate tipping point.
This is according to the official Zambian government report. However, last year when I was in Mfuwe and spoke with longtime residents and conservation experts, we talked about the numbers the government reports as often being at odds with the numbers submitted to them by people in the field. A reputable foundation funded this research, so the numbers are probably close to actual.
The bottom line is that the war against elephants is not over. We have a chance to save them from extinction. But if unstable bordering countries run out of sources for ivory which means a lot of money to terrorist groups and other black market dealers, we worry they will find “our” wildlife more attractive than ever. They can cross into the Luangwa Valley in bigger numbers to take out the biggest and best tusks, leaving elephant families without leaders, diminishing their gene pool and moving them closer to extinction because they don’t reproduce quickly enough.
This is why our Safari on the River fundraiser September 18, 2016 is important. Yes, you’ll have a wonderful time under the trees at Juluka Landing, a marina on the Sacramento River, but more importantly, you will be able to say that you helped preserve elephants for the next generation.
Written By: Pat Cole