Liuwa Plain in western Zambia has one of the oldest conservation histories in Africa, dating back to the late 19th century when the King of Barotseland appointed his people as the custodians of the reserve.
Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia has one of the oldest conservation histories in Africa, dating back to the 19th century when the King of Barotseland, Lubosi Lewanika, appointed his people the custodians of the landscape. Today they maintain that sentiment. With an estimated 10,000 people legally living within the park, Liuwa is a prime example of how people and wildlife can co-exist and benefit in a shared landscape. Each year, Liuwa hosts the second largest wildebeest migration on the continent, numbering around 30,000 individuals – this is one of the most glorious spectacles on the planet. But this was not always the case. Before African Parks assumed management of Liuwa in 2003, in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and the Barotse Royal Establishment, wildebeest and zebra were in steep decline, grasslands were threatened by rice fields, and all but one lonely lioness remained, “Lady Liuwa”.
In 2008, African Parks began a series of lion reintroductions to reunite this last lioness with her own kind, and thus new life began as she slowly joined a pride that grew to 10 lions. Over a similar period, eland and buffalo were reintroduced to the park and the plains game began to increase, providing a healthy prey base for the lions, as well as for cheetahs and hyaenas. As a result of effective law enforcement, poaching levels subsided and community land-use plans were implemented along with sustainable fish harvesting and other community projects, providing alternative livelihoods for local people. Today the park is the largest employer in the region, providing critical educational and health benefits to community members. Through ongoing community engagement and integration, Liuwa continues to uplift the community’s social economic status, while at the same time helping to renew people’s feeling of custodianship for the landscape once again.
While the park’s tourism appeal is strong, more infrastructure is needed to ensure that local communities benefit directly from this industry. In addition, providing sustainable solutions to communities living in volatile climate conditions with diminishing resources is a high priority of ours. And in 2020, we hope to include a portion of the Upper West Zambezi Game Management Area (GMA) under park management to increase our footprint in the region.
In 2003, African Parks entered into a partnership with the Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW) and the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) (the traditional stewards of the Lozi people), to manage the park.View Partners
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