When we began working in Bangweulu in 2008, park and village scouts employed by the Community Resource Boards (CRBs) lacked equipment and training. This precluded scouts from conducting effective, extensive, and frequent patrols within Bangweulu, and more often than not, hard-to-reach areas went unpatrolled. Over the past 13 years, law enforcement has focused on recruiting, equipping and training personnel to optimise their deployment and efficacy.
Bangweulu’s law enforcement team has grown to 88 rangers. In 2020, the team conducted 16,080 days in the field, confiscated 58 snares and made 50 arrests resulting in 31 convictions. By strategically recruiting and training law enforcement officers, we and our partners have brought poaching under control. Poaching has consistently decreased, allowing the endemic black lechwe to experience a remarkable comeback.
A fishing ban has been implemented during the spawning season to allow fish stocks time to recover. Close collaboration with the community leadership, along with monitoring by law enforcement officials and village scouts, has resulted in community adherence to the annual ban and improved fishing yields have already been reported.
In 13 years, Bangweulu has been transformed. Working with the six CRBs and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, we have brought poaching under control, allowing wildlife populations to rebound. And collaborative programmes with local communities ensure that Bangweulu’s resources are sustainably harvested in a way that benefits people and wildlife. Through community engagement and educational programmes, we have helped communities appreciate links between wildlife conservation and sustainable livelihoods. As a result, unsustainable fishing practices and poaching have decreased.
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