New Cruiser Speeds into Action to Combat Wildlife Crime

2017 began with excitement, as the Lower Zambezi Tracking and Detection Dog Unit received their much awaited new and modified Toyota Land Cruiser. This vehicle will play an incredibly vital role, enabling this team to operate independently as a unit whose aim is to combat poaching and trafficking in and around the Lower Zambezi National Park. The new Land Cruiser 4 x 4 was supplied as part of a sub grant of $150,000 awarded to Conservation Lower Zambezi and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in order to set up the new Tracking and Dog Detection Unit in 2016. The sub grant was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Community Forests Program (CFP), being implemented by BCP.

The stars of this new unit, German Shepard’s named Lego and Bar, and their four handlers underwent three months of intensive training before graduating onto anti-poaching operations duties in August 2016. While waiting for the new Land Cruiser to be delivered, the Community Forests Program volunteered one of their own vehicles as a loan so that the Tracking and Detection Dog Unit would have no delays in becoming operational. This highly specialized unit brings real additional value to disrupting wildlife crime chains in this important ecosystem.

This latest addition to the team, a purposely modified new Toyota Land Cruiser, is able to carry two batteries for extra power, a high lift jack, towing winch, external lighting and removable chairs so the dog kennels are not disturbed when people are getting into the vehicle. These modifications to the Land Cruiser will help the team cover difficult terrain and improve accessibility and effectiveness in detecting and tracking poachers.

 

During the vehicle handover ceremony on January 12th, the Unit put on a demonstration of the dog’s tracking and detection skills. Lego detected an AK-47 firearm that was hidden in a vehicle, and Bar detected a piece of ivory that was hidden around the BCP Office grounds (note: the ivory was loaned by Department of National Parks and Wildlife for the purposes of the demonstration). With a sense of smell significantly much greater than humans, Lego and Bar have been trained and “imprinted” on five sensors (smells), including:  ivory, pangolin scales, bush meat, firearms and ammunition.

“When tracking, the dogs do not know what they are going to find, they go for anything that they have been trained to detect. When they find an item they indicate by sitting and looking where the item is until we see what it is” explained the Head of the Dog Detection Unit.

The event was closed with a speech delivered by the USAID Zambia  Economic Development Office Director, Mr. Jeremy Boley “Our coming together today represents the ongoing partnership between the American People, the Zambia Government, implementing partners and local leadership to protect one of Zambia’s most valuable natural resources, its wildlife. This new vehicle being provided to the Conservation Lower Zambezi Detection and Tracking Unit will help in the fight against wildlife poaching and the procurement and sale of illegal game or bush meat.”

Since beginning last year, the Dog Detection Unit has already achieved amazing success. At a recent checkpoint, the unit uncovered an AK-47 firearm, bush meat, and illegal copper.

Building on the early successes of the Dog Detection Unit, this new and modified Toyota Land Cruiser will help Conservation Lower Zambezi and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife to expand the scope and efficiency of their operations to combat wildlife crime and stop poaching.

This Press Release is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Photo Credits: BCP and CLZ

Zambian Safari Lodges Take Carbon Neutrality to New Heights!

Last year the Lower Zambezi National Park became the first park in the world to go carbon neutral from operations thanks to support from local tour operators. In an effort to reduce their own company’s emissions as well as to reduce emissions associated with the entire national park, camps and lodges located within the Lower Zambezi ecosystem purchased Forest Carbon Offsets from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project supported through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Community Forests Program, implemented by BCP.

 

This year the Cumings family, who operate Chiawa and Old Mondoro Camps, have upped their offsetting game – going from ‘Copper’ offsetters to ‘Silver’.  Now they not only purchase offsets to cover their operations on the ground, but they are also covering guests offsets from the air, including emissions from all domestic flights.

By offsetting 1,200 tonnes of carbon emissions, Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro are protecting an estimated 403 hectares of Zambian forest (approximately 3,228 trees), and removing enough CO2 from the atmosphere to be equivalent to taking 215 cars off the road for a year.

 

As Grant Cumings, the Managing Director of the camps, expressed: “I am proud that Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro are leading the world in this initiative and have continued to up their carbon neutrality. Aside from guaranteeing to protect enough trees to mop up the carbon from all our tourism and activities, the northern frontier of the Lower Zambezi National Park is being protected, meaning vulnerable populations of fauna and flora are being sustained some distance from our area of operation. Therefore, the benefits of our model of responsible tourism are being enjoyed not only locally but further afield. This would not have been possible without BCP’s pioneering efforts which we are proud to be a part of.”

 

In fact, Grant and his team decided to go over and above their `Silver` status by purchasing an additional 190 tons of offsets to enable the Lower Zambezi National Park to maintain its carbon neutrality from operations for 2016, an initiative which started last year.

 

Serious thanks go out to Grant and his team`s at Chiawa and Old Mondoro camps for their significant contribution to carbon neutrality in the Lower Zambezi for these two years. We would also like to recognize and thank the numerous other camps and lodges who helped to make the Lower Zambezi National Park carbon neutral from operations this year.

 

This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Photo Credits: BCP

Zambian National Park Hits Global Milestone for the Second Year

For the second year in a row, the Lower Zambezi National Park has gone carbon neutral from operations. This continued commitment from Zambian tourism operators to reduce their carbon footprint highlights the importance of protecting the environment for wildlife, people and for future generations.

 

Starting in the year 2015, the Lower Zambezi National Park became the first National Park in the world to go carbon neutral from operations, Zambia has shown that it continues to be a leader in forest conservation and mitigating climate change.

 

A national park that is “carbon neutral from operations” has offset its emissions from tourism and conservation operations. For emissions that cannot be avoided (such as fuel used for safari vehicles), these are balanced out through the purchase of forest carbon offsets from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project. The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project is funded through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Community Forests Program, implemented by BCP.

For the second year, Zambian tourism lodges located both inside and outside of the Lower Zambezi  National Park, purchased offsets to cover both their own unavoidable emissions, as well as those from park management activities undertaken by the Department of National Parks and Conservation Lower Zambezi. Tourism is the world’s largest service industry and with significant energy, fuel, and food needs, this commitment by Zambian companies is significant.

 

Not only does this partnership help the Lower Zambezi National Park become carbon neutral from operations, it also has positive impacts on local communities and biodiversity. The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project protects 60 km of the northern boundary of the National Park from poaching and deforestation threats, and improves the lives of communities around the park though increased access to education and healthcare, employment opportunities and infrastructure. All of these are made possible by revenue brought in from the sale of Forest Carbon Offsets.

 

 

The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project carries two of the most highly recognised and respected international accreditations attainable by carbon projects. Validated and verified three times by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and triple gold level validated by the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standard (CCB).

 

As Grant Cumings, the Managing Director of Chiawa and Old Mondoro Camps, expressed: “Aside from guaranteeing to protect enough trees to mop up the carbon from all our tourism and activities, the northern frontier of the Lower Zambezi National Park is being protected [through this partnership with the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project], meaning vulnerable populations of fauna and flora are being sustained some distance from our area of operation. Therefore, the benefits of our model of responsible tourism are being enjoyed not only locally but further afield. This would not have been possible without BCP’s pioneering efforts which we are proud to be a part of.”

 

BCP is grateful to the Tourism Operators listed below for their generous support and leadership in conservation and climate change mitigation which made the Lower Zambezi National Park carbon neutral from operations, for the second year in a row.

 

 

Tourism Partners supporting Carbon Neutrality for the Lower Zambezi National Park:

 

Chiawa and Old Mondoro Camps – The Cumings Family own and run one of Africa’s finest safari operations with their two sensational, multi-award winning camps – Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro which pioneered safaris in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. Each of these safari camps offer an authentic experiential safari, where the focus is on the bush, the river, the wildlife, and you. Both camps offer a unique haven of warmth and hospitality, dedicated to making your safari dreams come true whilst protecting the wildlife and habitat of what has become one of Africa’s “bucket list” safari areas.

Anabezi and Amanzi Camp are very excited to work with BCP on this conservation initiative, protecting the habitat on the borders of the park is critical in protecting the areas we utilize and from which we benefit. We hope that by the Lower Zambezi National Park becoming carbon neutral from operations that we will set the benchmark for a broader type of conservation within National Parks and Wildlife areas.

 

Mwambashi River Lodge is one of the oldest camps in the Lower Zambezi and one of the safari world’s best-kept secrets. Situated in the heart of the National Park, a truly unspoiled wilderness area, Mwambashi combines comfort – cold drinks, Cordon Bleu meals and roomy en-suite tents – with the quintessential bush experience: game drives, bush walks, fishing, photo boat cruises and canoeing or enjoying a cold drink in camp watching elephants literally within touching distance.

 

Baines’ River Camp, a family owned and run safari lodge situated in the Game Management Area adjacent to the Lower Zambezi National Park, is passionate about all aspects of conservation. Whilst offering services with as little impact on this fragile ecosystem as feasibly possible, we are proud to be included in this pioneering project to offset the pressures of human impact on Zambia’s pristine natural heritage.

 

Royal Zambezi Lodge, a spacious but intimate privately owned lodge, situated in Zambia on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River just minutes from the Lower Zambezi National Park and directly opposite Zimbabwe’s famous Mana Pools World Heritage Site. Royal offers the ultimate in luxury and cuisine while enjoying and participating closely in the sights and sounds of the African wilderness.

 

Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project Implementing Partners: 

BioCarbon Partners (BCP) is an African-based and focused social enterprise, whose mission is to enhance livelihoods and conservation through verified forest conservation projects in Africa.  BCP’s current focus is implementing REDD+ projects in the greater Zambezi-Luangwa ecosystem in Zambia. BCP has certified Zambia’s first pilot REDD+ demonstration project known as the ‘Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project’ to CCB triple gold standards (validation) and VCS verification; the first project in Africa with these certifications.

Community Forests Program

In addition, BCP is proud to partner with USAID to implement the Community Forests Program. This innovative program targets the verification of 700,000 hectares of threatened forests across in Luangwa Valley ecosystem. BCP’s local presence, concentration on African dryland forests and intense focus on community livelihoods and conservation are the foundations of our operational strategy.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)  is the lead U.S. Government agency working around the world to end extreme poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.  When crisis strikes; when rights are repressed; when hunger, disease, and poverty rob people of opportunity; USAID acts on behalf of the American People to help expand the reach of prosperity and dignity to the world’s most vulnerable.  In order to support these goals, President John. F. Kennedy created the United States Agency for International Development by executive order in 1961.  Currently active in over 100 countries worldwide, USAID was born out of a spirit of progress and innovation, reflecting American values and character, and motivated by a fundamental belief in doing the right thing. .

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife formerly known as Zambia Wildlife Authority is mandated under the Zambia Wildlife Act No. 12 of 1998 to manage and conserve Zambia’s wildlife; its national parks and game management areas, which cover 31 percent of the country’s land mass. Department of National Parks and Wildlife endeavours to integrate the wildlife policy with economic, environmental and social policies to ensure effective contribution to sustainable national development. BCP and Department of National Parks and Wildlife collaborate closely in development and implementation of its REDD+ areas as those often are in ecosystems adjacent or including protected areas.

Conservation Lower Zambezi is a Zambian non-profit organisation committed to the conservation and sustainable use of the local wildlife and natural resources of the Lower Zambezi. Conservation Lower Zambezi focuses on three areas of work: a) wildlife protection – assisting the Department of National Parks and Wildlife anti-poaching patrol deployments and training as well as supporting a local Community Resource Board Village Scout unit; b) environmental education through outreach in schools and visits to our Conservation Lower Zambezi environmental education centre; and c) supporting local community development projects, especially human wildlife conflict mitigation. Conservation Lower Zambezi operates in the same ecosystem as BCP and the two entities have been collaborating on law enforcement and management of the area.

 

This Press Release is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Photo Credits: BCP and CLZ

Growing Trees and Lives for Farmers in Rufunsa

With grayish bark, and small dark oval leaves, the Faidherbia Albida tree, more commonly known as Musangu, an indigenous tree in Zambia. Rural farmers in Zambia know it as the “fertilizer tree.” Unlike many trees whose leaves grow back during the rainy season, Musangu, instead loses its nutrient rich leaves at the start of the rainy season in December. When the leaves fall to the ground, rhizobium bacteria living in the roots of the tree break down the leaves adding nitrogen to the soil. Farmers can plant their crops, like maize, under the Musangu trees, and naturally fertilize their fields.

Musangu is just one of the many trees species grown by the Forestry Department at their tree nursery in Chinyunyu, in Rufunsa District, located an hour and a half from Zambia`s capital city, Lusaka. This nursery was created to grow trees that will be used to replace the forest that has been cut down, while also providing nitrogen-fixing trees to help local farmers improve soil fertility to grow crops.

 

Started in 1989, the nursery has become popular within the local community, with a high demand for trees. So much so, that in early 2016 the Forestry Department requested assistance to expand its original nursery, in order to meet this growing demand. Within the same year, BCP was able to facilitate this support, as part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Community Forests Program.

 

Expansion of the Chinyunyu Nursery began in June of 2016, with the USAID Community Forests Program implemented by BCP, providing $7,000 for seed collection, the establishment of seedlings, and the renovation of the nursery. The upgraded nursery will allow the Forestry Department to greatly support and expand tree planting activities in Rufunsa District.

“We have done a number of tree planting activities with BCP. We requested BCP to help with expanding our nursery because we want to maximize the growth of trees to mitigate climate change and promote more tree planting because there is too much deforestation going on in Rufunsa. We already have a lot of farmers who have registered with the Department to collect seedlings and we will also be distributing trees to local schools” explained Mrs. Grace Daka, the District Forestry Officer from the Forestry Department in Rufunsa.

 

As a result of the support from the USAID-funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP, the nursery’s size has grown, extending the nursery’s grass fence from 35 meters by 35 meters to 35meters by 65 meters, almost doubling its size. This extra space has enabled the nursery to house up to 120,000 seedlings and increase the variety of trees grown. Nursery seedlings now include fruit trees like Guava, Lemons, Peaches and trees like Jacaranda, Mulombe and Khaya nyasica. Additionally, the Forestry Department plans to introduce Grevillea trees, which are popular in East Africa as both a renewable source of timber and its ability to help restore and naturally fertilize soil. To make a modern nursery, other items provided by BCP under the Community Forests Program included fencing materials, polythene pots, and payment of logistics to contractors for labor and transportation.

 The Forestry Department staff run the nursery efficiently, collecting seeds in the forests, preparing plastic containers with soil and growing seedlings; Germination is rapid. Seedlings take one to three months to grow large enough to be distributed to local farmers for planting in their fields.

 

Already the expanded tree nursery expansion is beginning to pay off. Since works were completed in December 2016, over 100 local famers have been able to access trees for agriculture purposes. Mr. Muhau, a farmer from nearby Ndubula village, is one of the new beneficiaries, who already sees the value of trees and is able to plant Musangu, Moringa and Gliricidia. As he explains, “I get my seedlings from the nursery at the Forestry Department to help me grow my crops and keep the field fertilized. Currently I am also selling Moringa powder at the market and its giving me some income to take care of my family.”

This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.