Researcher: Rachel McRobb
- To secure aerial support for anti-poaching and surveillance;
- To increase the apprehension of poachers;
- To increase effectiveness of anti-poaching patrols and scout efforts;
- To reduce incidences of poaching;
- Supporting and enhancing ZAWA’s law enforcement efforts in monitoring the illegal killing of elephants;
- To expand patrol and surveillance coverage of park and game management areas; and
- Strengthening the darting and veterinary program by locating snared and injured wildlife.
Primary function of air support
Air support takes the form of pro-active and reactive operations.
The most common pro-active role of an aircraft in the context of the South Luangwa National Park would be to fly the boundaries (Luangwa River and Muchinga Escarpment) and internal areas regularly. This serves as an effective deterrent to illegal entry and illegal operations inside the Park. It would also serve as a means of verifying the whereabouts of ZAWA and SLCS anti-poaching scouts whilst on patrol. Of late, it is being realised that patrols being conducted are not as effective as they could be, due to the lack of any means of checking on patrol whereabouts. A light aircraft would enable the SLCS operations personnel and ZAWA to conduct regular spot checks on scout whereabouts and ensure patrol effectiveness. The regular presence of an aircraft over the park will also act as a deterrent, and in the case of visual identification of illegal activities will give a distinct advantage in apprehending suspects.
Used in a reactive role the aircraft can get to the scene of an incident very quickly, and then control the situation on the ground most effectively by keeping the visual contact with suspects and directing ground forces onto them.
Secondary function of air support
Although anti-poaching operations and research would be the primary role of the aircraft, the secondary role would be that of acting in support of park management.
This would include:
- Aerial game monitoring;
- Aerial habitat assessment;
- Problem animal detection and control;
- Various survey assignments;
- Monitor and assess game scout movements while on patrol;
- Intelligence gathering outside park boundaries including map appraisals;
- Used as an aerial detection and command centre in runaway fire control in conjunction with ground fire-fighting team;
Carcass detection and special mention should be made of the value of the role the aircraft would play in the detection of animal carcasses where a poaching incident is suspected. From time to time scouts on patrol hear shots in the park, or else vulture activity is seen in an area and personnel are deployed on foot and in vehicles to attempt to ascertain whether in fact an animal has been poached; and
Identification and monitoring of snared animals and assisting the darting team in tracking snared animals.
It must be stressed that the principles, uses and roles of the aircraft, some of which are mentioned above, are not merely theoretical, but have been tried and tested in many varied situations and contexts, and have always proved very successful.
ZAWA, SLCS and the South Luangwa National Park will benefit from the following expected outputs:
- Improved law enforcement within the park and GMA;
- Improved effectiveness of patrols;
- Improved cost effectiveness of patrols;
- Increase reports and identification on illegal activities;
- Decrease in poaching; and
- Increase in suspects apprehended.
During the wet season in the South Luangwa National Park, due to the park’s inaccessibility during the rains and the fact that safari bush camps and some lodges close down for this period, there is an increase in poaching in remote areas within the National Park. To minimise such activities, the South Luangwa Conservation Society (SLCS) takes part in anti-poaching efforts during this time by providing a constant law enforcement presence in the southern section, specifically the Luamfwa and Kapamba areas of the National Park.
During the rains, the Kapamba and Luamfwa areas are well-known sensitive localities and are largely targeted by poachers for big game, specifically elephant and buffalo. This can be seen in that the buffalo population in Luangwa has plummeted by almost 50% in the past ten years, declining from 20 000 to a mere 9 000 animals.
As part of its anti-poaching efforts, village scouts are trained by SLCS and conduct regular anti-snaring patrols and frequent long patrols (ten days each) within the Park and surrounding Game Management Areas (GMAs).
For the past four years, SLCS has been supporting anti-poaching fly camps during the wet season. The fly camps are carefully located in sensitive areas of high poaching pressure. Each is a base from which patrols are deployed, and is equipped with tents, communications equipment and solar equipment. This ensures that the area is covered for 20 days at a time until the changeover group comes in.
SLCS continues to provide all the manpower, scout equipment, logistical support, supervision and coordination for the fly camp programmes – a large part of which the Trust is funding.
About the South Luangwa Conservation Society
The SLCS is a registered non-profit organisation, committed to the conservation and preservation of local wildlife and natural resources of the South Luangwa National Park and surrounding Game Management Areas. This is achieved by anti-poaching patrols and snare removal programmes, uplifting of local communities by alternative income generating projects such as tree planting and chilli farming, and education of local children to appreciate their heritage and work towards sustainable wildlife utilisation and coexistence.
Aerial Monitoring with Light Aircraft
It is fundamental to reinforce and improve SLCS and ZAWA law enforcement efforts with aerial support in order to reduce illegal activities, and protect the wildlife and natural resources in and around the South Luangwa national park by:
- supporting ZAWA in law enforcement activities through streamlining anti-poaching operations with aerial support;
- expanding SLCS park and GMA patrol coverage; and
- by securing the availability of a light aircraft for anti-poaching and surveillance purposes.
SLCS is proud to announce that Kalamu Lagoon (Wilderness Safaris) is the second tourism facility in South Luangwa to apply and to receive a South Luangwa Eco Award. This is the first ever regional-specific eco award in Zambia and is an SLCS initiative. Kalamu Lagoons have made considerable financial investment to upgrade the facilities and have introduced some innovative management methods to be more environmentally sustainable. They have also have invested time, money and effort in becoming more socially responsible as employers and as community partners. Congratulations to Kalamu.For the full report, please click here.
SLCS has received funding from the Wilderness Trust to support the wet season anti-poaching operations in the Luamfwa concession for the past three years. As part of the SLCS and ZAWA wet season anti-poaching strategy, we have been supporting and coordinating fly camps inside the national park in three key areas, one of these being Luamfwa. Fly camps have been operating for the past six years and have been active in Luamfwa for the third year now and have had a significant impact on poaching in these areas.
The Luamfwa region is one of the areas inside the national park which is heavily affected by poaching during the wet season when tour operator presence is minimal, with only camp security on hand to report any signs of poaching such as gun shots. It is because of this tendency towards an increase in poaching during the wet season that SLCS in conjunction with ZAWA has a fly camp based at Luamfwa. The fly camps act as a deterrent to poachers in these areas. Added to this the scouts also patrol far from the base during long field patrols, covering a much wider area and allowing more chance to apprehend suspects.
SLCS dry season patrols during 2011 indicate that poaching is still high and hundreds of snares have been seized with a number of perpetrators. The wet season fly camp in 2010 / 2011 also highlighted the need for continued support and scouts apprehended 10 suspects, confiscated 9 firearms, recovered, recovered 37 snares, confiscated 209 pellets for muzzle loading guns and also identified 1 buffalo, 2 hippo, 2 grysbok, 2 puku, 1 impala and 1 elephant poached in the area.
SLCS would like to continue this anti-poaching support in the Luamfwa concession throughout the 2011 / 2012 wet season. This proposal provides local law enforcement with the skills and resources to continue to effectively combat poaching in a critical portion of the Luangwa system.
Supporting the wet season law enforcement activities of village scouts in South Luangwa national park (SLNP) is a continuation of the anti-poaching support provided to ZAWA in order to assist with wildlife and natural resources protection in the Luamfwa concession.
SLCS proposes to operate seven by twenty day fly camps from late November 2011 to April 2012. During this time, we expect to conduct a number of day patrols and long field patrols. The fly camps are carefully located in sensitive areas of area of high poaching pressure. Each fly camp is made up of an eight man team who are deployed for twenty days at a time. The fly camp has a base from where patrols are deployed. The base is equipped with tents, communications equipment and solar equipment. This ensures that the area is covered for twenty days at a time until the changeover group comes in. At the same time the purchase of a banana boat and engine using Wilderness Trust funding will assist the scouts in reacting to illegal activities on both sides of the river.
July – September 2011
Recently, there has been a large spike in snaring activities and a lot of time is needed for our team to be in the field locating these animals in order for us to be able to treat them.
Recently, over the space of four days, we have had to immobilize seven elephants to be able to dart three snared individuals. Unfortunately most snares are being set for buffalo which are the perfect height for catching elephant calves around the neck.
In addition to that, the 46 scouts which we support have been putting in a lot of extra time and effort to increase patrols in order to identify and apprehend more perpetrators involved in snaring and other wildlife crimes.
For the full report, please click here.
As part of the wet season anti-poaching strategy for 2010/2011 South Luangwa Conservation Society is currently coordinating two wet season fly camp operations in Luamfwa and Kapamba. The fly camp operations started in December 2010 and will end in April 2011 and the following results have been achieved so far:
Six teams patrolled the following areas: Mwamba, Zungulila, Luamfwa, Kapamba and Kamundi where 2 weapons were recovered, 1 poacher was arrested, 31 pellets, 36 wire snares, buffalo, hippo and grysbok meat confiscated.
Nine teams patrolled the following areas: Mwamba, Luamfwa, Kapamba / Zungulila, Nsefu and Lubi. Three weapons were recovered, 3 poachers were arrested and 32 wire snares confiscated.
February 2011 – Three teams patrolled Mwamba, Luamfwa and Kapamba / Zungulila and one weapon and 15 pellets were recovered.
Annual Report 2011
In addition to standard law enforcement activities, community and education projects, a large portion of the South Luangwa Conservation Society’s (SLCS) work in 2010 consisted of wildlife rescue and immobilisations for snared and injured animals.
Snaring continues to be the major cause of a high number of wildlife mortalities in the national park and GMAs. Statistics show that 2010 appears to be the worst year yet for snaring in South Luangwa. Despite current conservation projects working in Luangwa, snaring continues to increase, especially during the dry season, causing massive reductions to wildlife populations. Possible reasons for this include an increase in human population bordering the national park, the wide availability of wire that can be used for snaring in the area, the ease at which snaring is done i.e. very little skill needed and all ages of the community can do it, weak convictions by the courts on suspects apprehended for snaring, poverty and at the same time an increase in wealth amongst some of the community thereby providing a market for the sale of bush meat.
SLCS darted and treated a large number of wild animals in 2010, including eight lions, two wild dogs, two hyaena, a giraffe, 16 elephants, a bush pig and more, while at the same time removing hundreds of snares from the area.
Working with one of our partners, the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), SLCS formed and manages the wild dog anti-snaring team. The group was primarily created in order to address the ongoing problem of snaring mortality in the region’s wild dog populations. The four-man patrol team is employed and managed by SLCS. Apart from wild dog conservation, the team has been instrumental in reducing the number of snares that would have potentially trapped and killed hundreds of other species prone to snaring. The scout team movements are structured using valuable GPS coordinates remotely downloaded from wild dogs and lions collared by ZCP. This sharing of information improves the effectiveness of the scout patrols and the removal of snares.