It is noon. Paimolo Bwalya stops under a butterfly tree to put down his heavy rifle and his telemetry devices. Since dawn, he and his colleagues have been roaming the Zambian bush in the oppressive heat, surrounded by dangerous animals, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the black rhinos that live there. It is the fourth day of their expedition, planned to last ten, in the North Luangwa National Park where they have come to observe the population of rhinos, preserve their habitat and protect them from poachers. With the sun almost at its zenith and the mercury reaching 40 degrees, they can now take a well-deserved break and have lunch – on the menu today, a nsima, a corn dish, accompanied by dried fish called kapenta.
North Luangwa National Park is one of the last open and untouched ecosystems on the African continent. This gigantic site covers nearly 4,500 square kilometers in northern Zambia. Head of the rhinoceros surveillance unit, Paimolo Bwalya is one of 440 agents and forest guards who monitor these discreet animals and track down signs of illegal activities: poachers’ footprints, arson, bushmeat drying racks and illegal possession of ‘firearm.
Their efforts are paying off. Or rather herds: while in 1998 the black rhinoceros was declared an extinct species in the country, the North Luangwa National Park – the only one in Zambia where these animals are doing so well – is now home to one of the fastest growing populations across the continent.
The difficulty of the task of reintroducing an extinct species to such a vast region cannot be overstated, and even more so when it comes to animals the size of rhinos. In 1986, the Zambia Wildlife Authority (now the Department of National Parks and Wildlife) joined forces with the Frankfurt Zoological Society to form a unique partnership in Africa. This Collaborative Management Partnership (CMP) gave birth to the ongoing North Luangwa Conservation Program (NLCP), and is behind several key initiatives.
Gradually, poaching disappeared
It first provided the technical and financial support necessary to fight against large-scale poaching while this park, private
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Source of the article
Reasons to Be Cheerful is an informative blog, funded by the Arbutus Foundation. Founded in 2018 by American musician David Byrne, this non-profit organization is dedicated “to reimagine the world through projects that inspire and educate”, worn by a range of artists and thinkers.