Monday, September 24, 2007

Lochinvar National Park dying due to neglect and disinterest

Statutory bodies and NGOs involved with the conservation and protection of national forests and parks should be made accountable when such disasters occur

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Zambia, the Ramsar Convention and Bangweulu...

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Manning []
Sent: 22 August 2007 13:48
To: Ramsar Mailbox
Subject: Bangweulu Zambia

Dear Dwight
Can you send me details of the National Wetland Steering Committee
Ian Manning

See my comments below....

Zambia: Bangweulu Ramsar Site
Ramsar Convention Secretariat blurb...
"The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Zambia on 28 December 1991. Zambia presently has 8 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 4,030,500 hectares.
Ramsar description as follows:
Bangweulu Swamps. 28/08/91; Northern Province; 1,100,000 ha; 11°25'S 029°59'E. Includes National Parks, Game Management Areas. In addition to providing a breeding ground for birds, fishes and wildlife ( e.g., the African elephant Loxodonta africaca, the buffalo Syncerus caffer, and Sitatunga Tragelaphus spekei), the site is known to support large numbers of the endemic, semi-aquatic Black Lechwe (vulnerable Kobus leche) and is home to the threatened Wattled crane (Grus carunculatus), as well as the only home in Zambia for the threatened Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex). The swamp is a natural flood controller and important for groundwater recharge and water quality control. The site contains the historical Nachikufu caves with bushman paintings, maintained by the National Heritage Conservation Commission. Threats to the wetland such as poaching will be addressed by the National Wetlands Steering Committee with a proposed general management plan that will steer development away from sensitive habitats. The Zambian Wildlife Authority in collaboration with WWF-Zambia office are collaborating on improving sustainable livelihoods and ecotourism possibilities. The site was extended from 250,000 to 1,100,000 ha on 2 February 2007. Ramsar site no. 531. Most recent RIS information: 2007.

For further information about the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, please contact the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland (tel +41 22 999 0170, fax +41 22 999 0169, e-mail: ). Posted 25 January 2000, updated 2 May 2007, Dwight Peck."

Ian Manning comments:
In the original Ramsar core of this site i.e. the water meadows and plains associated with the Lukulu river of the S.E Bangweulu (not the river of the same name i.e. the Bemba Lukulu which debouches into the Chambeshi river), and once the site of the Black Lechwe Project on Chikuni Island, which I headed from 1973-1976, the uncontrolled impacts of fishermen has had a deleterious impact on the most important Black lechwe lekking grounds of the Bangweulu: four foot fishing weirs, permanent huts and villagers houses dot the high ground, altering flow patterns and changing the dynamics of the system. Added to this the embankment access which I originally constructed to allow tourists to reach Shoebill Island camp, now forms an almost solid wall, again impacting and altering flow patterns. In addition, inflated hunting offtake quotas set by the Zambia Wildlife Authority and poaching is from all reports having a negative impact on the biology of animals such as sitatunga, and on the quality of hunting trophies.

What the Ramsar Secretariat does not mention is that the Bangweulu core area of the five river estuaries (Munikashi, Luitikila, Lumbatwa, Lukulu and Lulimala) and deep swamp, provide a productive fishery for the people of the swamp islands; and that what it should have done since 1976 - as per the Black Lechwe Project, was to provide sustained yield offtakes of lechwe and some other species for people who had lived off them for centuries (and still do, but illegally) - particularly the aboriginal baTwa centred about Mboyalubambe. This is the reason why the Chikuni Special GMA was gazetted, and why a National Park was not created. People need to be part of wildlife conservation and development, particularly in S-E Bangweulu. Present work being carried out by the GEF/UNDP Protected Areas Re-Classification Project, should see that the Luitikila National Forest, the Isangano and Lavusi Manda National Parks, the five river estuaries, the Mwendachabe forest, and their associated floodplains, and the Kasanka National Park are knitted into a conservation mosaic covering the chiefdoms of Kopa, Chiundaponde, Chitambo etc, but under a series of interlocking smart partnership of the Landsafe Trust system, rather than just a few National Parks which exclude people, or which are unable to manage the conservation and management of the system as a whole, as is presently the case

Greetings, and many thanks for this. I've forwarded your comments to our Africa team, Mr Abou Bamba ( and his assistant Ms Evelyn Moloko (, and will ask them to inform you about the Committee.

Best regards, Dwight.

Dwight Peck
Communications Officer
Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland,

Dear Mr. Nalumino and others,
Accept regards from the Ramsar Secretariat.

We recently received an email from Mr. Ian Manning, inquiring about the National Wetlands Steering Committee in Zambia. This information was provided in the updated Ramsar Information Sheet for Bangweulu Ramsar site. We however realized that we do not have any information documented on this at the Ramsar Secretariat. We would like to inquire whether this is similar to the ‘National Committee’ as encouraged by Recommendation 5.7 of the 5th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties Kushiro, Japan (which encouraged Contracting Parties to establish, or recognize the establishment of, national committees according to the needs of each Contracting Party, to provide a focus at national level for implementation of the Convention. This same recommendation requests that national committees send the Bureau summary information concerning their establishment, updated with reference to their work in subsequent national reports).

We would therefore appreciate you forwarding information on the National Wetlands Steering Committee in Zambia; when it was created, its members, how it operates and other necessary information about. This would help us stay up to date with the activities geared towards the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Zambia and would serve as a good example to other Contracting parties. We would refer Mr. Ian Manning to you for further information on this issue and subsequent issues.

Furthermore, there was some information provided concerning threats to the Bangweulu Ramsar site and additional information which could be included in the Ramsar Information sheet for this site. You would find this information in his email which is below. The Ramsar Administrative Authority in Zambia, together with Mr. Ian Manning, can check out the possibility of incorporating this information in the RIS for this site or in what way this information could be used.

We are copying this email to Mr. Ian Manning as well.
We look forward to your reply and we hope to get some information on this National wetlands Committee.
Sincere regards,

Moloko Evelyn Parh 
Assistant Advisor, Africa
Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel.: + 41 22 999 01 72 Fax: + 41 22 999 01 69
Web site:

From: PECK Dwight 
Sent: mercredi 22 août 2007 14:17
To: Ian Manning
Cc: BAMBA Abou; MOLOKO, Evelyn
Subject: RE: Bangweulu Zambia
Dear Mr. Manning,

Your email of August 22nd was forwarded to the African team for follow up. Thank you for the information provided on the Bangweulu Swamps Ramsar site.

In response to your question concerning the National Wetlands Steering Committee in Zambia, we are sorry to inform you that we do not have any documented information on this committee at the level of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat. Since we are an inter-governmental organization, we work for the governments of the Contracting parties through officially appointed contact institutions in each contracting party. We have therefore forwarded your request to the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Zambia (the Zambia Wildlife Authority, ZAWA) for further information. We would forward any responses we get from them to you. Meanwhile, we would advice you to keep in touch with them and work hand in hand with them, towards the wise use and management of Zambian wetlands. The contacts information for our contact persons in ZAWA are below:

Mr Nalumino Nyambe
Project Leader
WWF Zambia Coordination Office
PO Box 50551, Ridgeway
Lusaka, ZAMBIA
Fax :+260 1 250 805
Tel: +260 1 255 598
Ms Francesca Chisangano
Senior Ecologist - Conventions and Agreements
Zambia Wildlife Authority
P/B 1, Chilanga
Lusaka, ZAMBIA
Fax: +260 1 278 299
Fax: +260 1 278 365
Tel: +260 1 278 365
Email: &
Mr Monty Hapenga Kabeta
Director General
Zambia Wildlife Authority
Private Bag 1, Kafue Road
Chilanga, Lusaka
Fax: +260 1 278 244
Tel: +260 1 278 524

We hope this information would be helpful to you and we would be grateful if you could tell us more about yourself for the record keeping.

Ian Manning replies:
Many thanks for all your very rapid responses, something very unusual
these days. You ask for some details of myself: I am the former
Warden/Senior Biologist of the Bangweulu Command in 1973, followed by
Director of the Black Lechwe Project until 1976, based in the S.E.
Bangweulu in the black lechwe range, with responsiblity for the
Bangweulu, the Kasanka, Isangano and Lavusi Manda National Parks and
all the attendant Game Management Areas. My work involved black lechwe
protection, research on black lechwe lekking behavour, shoebill stork
behaviour and ecology, and the ecology of the sitatunga. In addition I
translocated lechwe back to the Bwela flats of Chinsali district - an
area in which they once occurred. Since that time I assisted in the
negotiations with Government for a PPP on the Kasanka National Park,
was the scientific advisor to the Kasanka Trust in London, and gave
the use of Shoebill Island and Lake Waka Waka (which had been given to
me by the customary authority) to the Kasanka Trust of Zambia, the
present leaseholders of the Park. For some time I have been trying to
interest investors in taking on the Isangano and Lavusi Manda in a
partnership with Government and their local communities.

You should be aware of the Reclassification of Protected Areas Project
(UNDP/GEF) which seeks to do certain things in the newly constituted
Bangweulu Wetland (RAMSAR). Also, Hapenga Kabeta has since April last
year (2006) not been the DG of ZAWA. That post is now filled by Dr Lewis
Saiwana, someone who assisted greatly in the 80's and 90's with the
PPP in respect of Kasanka.

There would appear to be no national committee dealing with this or
any other wetland, a serious concern.

Look forward to hearing more
Ian Manning

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Kasanka National Park intends re-arranging the deck chairs...

Pic of the puku lover by David Rogers

The Kasanka National Park, which lies on the edge of the floodplains of the south-east Bangweulu, has since about 1988 been run by David Lloyd and his Kasanka Trust. As the former warden/biologist of the Bangweulu with its three national parks and its game management areas, I assisted David in the negotiations with government towards a public private management agreement, but it was Peter Moss – a former colleague in the Department of Wildlife and National, and a Mkushi farmer, Gary Williams, who set the park up and obtained the initial funding from the EU.

Unfortunately, the three of us no longer have anything to do with the park, it being run as a tourist operation, with no management plan in place, and no formal trust structures established with the Chitambo chiefdom in which the park falls, originally a portion of what was created in 1931, the Livingstone Memorial Game Reserve.

A report on two of the game counts carried out in Kasanka in 1952 and 1955

I have just been informed that the Kasanka Trust wish to translocate Black lechwe into the Kasanka National Park to augment the two males which recently arrived there. Black lechwe never occupied the Kasanka i.e. as a breeding population, as long as we have had records - and I have copies or access to most of them. Lechwe do mate with puku if there are none of their own kind about – being a member of the same genus, but the offspring of the union is infertile and will simply die off in time; but in the Kasanka the offspring of the lechwe male there should be removed at once, and the lechwe male as well.

Zebra in the Lavusi Manda circa 1910 (J.E. Hughes)

Black lechwe should not be translocated into the Kasanka simply to add to the tourists' species list. We already have the example of the scientifically irresponsible and high-handed translocation of the Kafue strain of zebra (with their stripe shadow) onto one of the floodplains allied with the Lukulu river – the main lechwe lekking ground, showing a complete disregard for the principles of wildlife conservation. No effort was made to find the remnants of the Bangweulu strain and to conserve them. And this sort of thing is happening all over Zambia as private farmers and the Zambia Wildlife Authority put and take animals at will.

The 5th National Development Plan says...
The greatest threat to wetlands in the country is from their degradation caused by human-induced processes and exacerbated by climatic fluctuations (particularly drought). It is estimated, for example, that over 20 percent of the flood plains and swamps have been degraded as result of dam development, siltation, and human settlements. At least 30 percent of dambos in Southern, Lusaka, Central, and Eastern Provinces of the country are degraded through inappropriate agricultural practices, siltation, overgrazing, and human settlements. Over 40 percent of wetlands’ wildlife resources have been depleted through over-hunting and habitat loss, while over 50
percent of wetland fisheries resources have been considerably over-exploited.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Zambia needs to change how it manages wildlife and protected areas..

The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), with one man at the helm with any experience and the qualifications to back it up, Dr Lewis Saiwana, is beyond repair, beyond reconstruction. That it has not even made the necessary pension contributions for its own staff is proof that it is time to call it a day. At HQ, ZAWA is a shambles, unable to pay consultants as promised, unable to administer the hunting industry and the quota system, unable to pay all the Community Resource Boards who are responsible for hiring village scouts, unable to answer a simple letter. And in the field, uncannily mirroring national expenditure over the last 20 years on agriculture, education, health and local councils, only between 7 – 15% or so of funds has been deployed for field operations. If the West Petauke Game Mangement Area (GMA) is anything to go by, local ZAWA officers operate ‘legalized’ bushmeat and elephant ivory poaching operations, assisted by village scouts who need little encouragement to poach given the fact that they are only paid occasionally.

Zambia is in the grip of an implacable criminal operation denuding customary areas and National Parks and National Forests of its wildlife. Yet like Zambia itself, ZAWA calls for a financial rescue package. This is not the panacea for the ills which beset ZAWA or the country.

It is time for Government to accept that the management of protected areas and its wildlife, and the wildlife of customary areas, can no longer be run by a highly centralized statutory body with a weak supervisory board. It is time to put all National Parks and Forests out to public private partnerships, and in customary areas, to place the ownership of wildlife in the hands of development trusts which incorporate customary leaders, local councils, the villagers and NGOs.

At a meeting the other day at the national archives, addressed by the Minister of Home Affairs and the Permanent Secretary of that Ministry, the latter said he will request the Minister to instruct all District Commissioners to pay a visit to the archives in order to study the District Notebooks kept by the British South Africa Company from 1902 – 1924, and by the administration of the Imperial Government until 1964, so that the DC’s may learn how to administer their districts. It is time that ZAWA’s senior personnel started looking into the old files of the Game Department in order to learn that its prime function was to protect people from the depredations of wildlife, and to earn money for the Native Authority from wildlife. And it is time that the district councils studied the files of the Native Authority to see how well Zambia’s districts were once managed. It was not a matter of money then, as it is not now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dr Neo Simutanyi talks of organized racket in Zambia hunting licenses...

In The Post newspaper of 10 September 2007, Dr Neo Simutanyi in his article entitled 'Education and the Criminal Economy' says that "There have also been reports of an organized racket in the award and use of hunting licenses in which some government officials are believed to be involved'.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lochinvar National Park suffocates from neglect...

In 1918, long before it became a National Park, Lochinvar ranch was bought in a Nairobi pub over a couple of beers by my good late friend, Len Vaughan (pictured above); he had not seen the place before. It was the ellysian fields, covered from one side to the other with lechwe, buffalo, eland and now and then, the Ipumpe crowned Mushkulumbwe on one of their spearing chilas. Steadily over the years since 1976 it has been neglected, the annual flooding regime on which the ecology depends all but destroyed by the impoundment of Iteshiteshi upstream. Now it is being taken over by the dreaded Mimosa, starving out the grasses, stifling the lekking water meadows on which lechwe depend, driving them into the woodland to meet the hoards of cattle. It is all a national disgrace.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A report from Livingstone on Zambia's game translocations...

"I was down at (Zambia Wildlife Authority) ZAWA this afternoon when a truck that had bought down 10 zebra from Kafue turned up. Only 6 are alive after offloading. 2 died on the way down, one at the weighbridge this afternoon and one just after it was off loaded. The truck left Kafue at 1600 yesterday but only got to Livingstone at 1400 today!!!! The truck, which is Zimbabwe registered, is a converted container.
I’m not an expert on moving game but I am a farm boy and I wouldn’t have put cattle in it. There is a serious lack of ventilation.

Can you please pass this on to wildlife society and ask someone to follow it up as they are about to start bringing the roan, sable and eland next week. If they take that amount of time to get from Kafue to here in the current heat, the only thing being restocked will be game rangers freezers."

Another report received states that ZAWA intends capturing eland from the Kafue National Park and translocating them to Liuwa Plain NP. Any removal of eland from Kafue, given their numbers, is to be deplored.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Luembe Headmen complain about, and to, ZAWA...

Zambian community suspends it own village wildlife scouts…

The Community Resource Board (CRB) for the Luembe chiefdom of Zambia’s southern Luangwa valley, on Thursday, 30 August, took the decision to suspend all their 12 village wildlife scouts. For over 30 years – in particular from the time of the takeover in November 1999 of wildlife and protected area affairs by the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, the region has been in the grip of a crime syndicate made up of the very people supposed to protect wildlife. The supplier of the ammunition, the transport for collecting the dried game meat, and the supervision of the actual poaching operation is the officer-in-charge of ZAWA Nyimba sector, Collins Chibeka, and the two ZAWA Wildlife Police Officers (WPOs) in charge of two ZAWA camps, Ben Mwale and Joseph Mbo, assisted by all the village scouts and the other WPO.

This action by the CRB and its capable Chairman, Axon Lungu, is highly significant, for along with the Nawalya CRB further up in the Luangwa, who opposed the removal of their hunting safari operator by ZAWA without due legal process, it shows that rural people living in Game Management Areas are starting to resist the heavy hand of ZAWA, and that of corrupt chiefs, in the management of their lives.

The Luembe Chiefdom is in the midst of a major attempt to remove its chief, Senior Chief Luembe, for selling off their land and for a litany of human rights abuses carried out by him against them. Removed once from office, then replaced by a Government Minister, he will shortly appear in the Kabwe High Court. Investigations are also underway against him and the Chairman of the MMD ruling political party, Whiteson Njobvu, for their part in the illegal alienation of the adjoining West Mvuvye National Forest No. 54 and in the chief’s case, his failure to place a caveat against the 99 year alienation of the M’Nyamadzi game ranch. Both these men were trustees of the Luembe Conservancy Trust, whose mission was to conserve the wildlife and land for the benefit of the villagers.

Since July 2005, the concession holders of the area, Mbeza Safaris, has been apprehending WPOs and village scouts poaching. On 3 July 2007, the Secretary of the Luembe Headmen Traditional Committee wrote in outrage to the Director-General of ZAWA, saying that nothing was being done about the poaching of elephant and other game. In particular, he produced proof of the involvement of the WPO Ben Mwale in the killing of two elephant, and of Collins Chibeka for collecting bags of meat and taking it to Lusaka. He also supplied an affidavit signed by 27 men and woman, admitting that they had worked in Ben Mwale’s fields in return for elephant meat.

The Association has yet to receive a reply, and Mwale and Mbo and Chibeka have not been suspended, let alone prosecuted. And no action has been taken by ZAWA to suspend the village scouts.

I have written elsewhere of catching Mbo and village scouts at their meat filled poaching camp, and of finding Chibeka waiting nearby at another camp. Although I took them to the police, I was not able to prosecute as we could discover no bullet in the impala we found. Their well-oiled story of ’we found poachers and their camp, fired in the air, they ran away’ has served them and their predecessors well since 1976, accounting for all the Zambian rhino and in excess of a 100,000 elephant and countless buffalo and other game.

The sad part of all this is that village scouts are recruited from villager ranks. They are part of the community, with the ZAWA officers coming from elsewhere and being placed in charge of them. As they have not been paid by ZAWA for many months, it is hardly surprising that they poach. But they are directed in this by the permanently employed WPO civil servants.

Ben Mwale recently was given a pair of tusks recovered from an elephant by the fisherman, Ghandi,but has received no reward as is customary. Ghandi states that this ivory has not been handed into the Nyimba office for registration.

The Chairman of the CRB told me yesterday that his CRB had received no funds from ZAWA this year, though Mbeza paid its concession fees in April.