Bangweulu means “where the water meets the sky”, which is a perfect description of this extraordinary community-owned protected wetland in north-eastern Zambia
Bangweulu, meaning ‘where water meets the sky’ is a perfect description for these globally important and stunning wetlands in Zambia. Bangweulu is unique in that it is a community-owned protected wetland, home to 50,000 people who retain the right to sustainably harvest its natural resources and who depend entirely on the richness the park provides. But due to human needs and lack of alternatives, Bangweulu has suffered for decades from rampant poaching of wildlife and fish stocks. But this began to change when African Parks signed a long-term agreement in 2008 with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to work with the communities to sustainably manage the wetlands for the benefit of wildlife and people.
Ten years later, Bangweulu is delicately balancing the needs of the people with the preservation of wildlife. Fish stocks have significantly increased due to a well-supported three-month fishing ban that resulted in improved catch rates and sales which economically benefits the communities. Poaching has been contained and black lechwe increased from 35,000 to over 50,000 in the past five years. The globally significant shoebill stork population continues to grow , with 10 nests protected by community guards and at least six chicks successfully fledged in 2017. A significant wildlife translocation occurred in 2017, with 250 animals including zebra and impala brought in to bolster remnant populations. Healthcare is being delivered across all six Chiefdoms and the park supports 60 schools. Bangweulu Wetlands is the largest employer in the region and is positioned to become a leading example of community-driven conservation on the continent.
2017 saw the arrival of 250 animals including zebra and impala to help bolster local populations, and additional animals will be brought in over 2018. The Domain Awareness System (DAS) will be function in 2018 to improve park-wide management. Ongoing enforcement of the fishery management plan will continue, including managed fish bans and assisting fisherman with reducing post-harvest losses and access to markets. In addition, we plan to expand the Shoebill Guard Programme, which employs local fisherman to monitor nests, and we are providing beekeeping training to boost community income through the production of honey
The Bangweulu Wetlands project is managed through a partnership between African Parks, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and the six Community Resource Boards (CRBs) who have jurisdiction over the area in which the project is located. The Bangweulu Wetlands Management Board was established in 2008 after the communities, through their Chiefs, CRBs and advisors, invited African Parks to be their private sector management partner for the Bangweulu Wetlands Project.
The board comprises representatives of the six local communities, African Parks and the DNPW. This ensures that the stakeholders at the heart of the project, the people who live and work in the community, have a meaningful role to play in managing the area.View Partners
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