Given the name Bangweulu, meaning “where the water meets the sky”, this community-owned protected wetland in north-eastern Zambia is one of the most extraordinary wetlands in all of Africa. Its unique floral and faunal diversity set the stage for a spectacular display of 689 different species of bird, including the Vulnerable and prehistoric-looking shoebill.
Prior to partnering with African Parks, rampant poaching and unrestricted fishing had seriously depleted the rivers and decimated the black lechwe antelope population, among other large mammal species. The introduction of sustainable harvesting, co-governance and community-driven conservation has helped restore the resources that now sustain both local communities and the natural ecosystem.
These communities are able to experience the tangible benefits of sustainable management through increased tourism and employment opportunities, which enhance the value of their natural heritage.
The park, one of the region’s largest employers, has established a Community Development Fund and overseen the construction of medical and school facilities.
Anti-poaching measures have seen the recovery of black lechwe, sitatunga and shoebill populations.
Bangweulu is well-positioned for the reintroduction of large mammals. We are confident that they will once again prosper in this fertile habitat. We plan to expand the Shoebill Guard Programme, which employs local fisherman to monitor nests, and to provide beekeeping training to boost community income through the production of honey.