The Biopama Grant which kicked off in the first quarter of 2021 is progressing well. The Southern African Wildlife College is very proud to have the support of the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States through the BIOPAMA Programme.
In support of the grant, the SAWC has partnered with the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, resulting in the joint collaboration with Zambeze Delta Safaris who work on the ground in the area. The main goal is to bring much-needed food security and capacity for effective conservation and counter poaching in the area.
The Zambezi delta ecosystem is one of the most important intact coastal forest/wetland systems in Africa. Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a terrible impact in the region, due to the loss of tourist-based income which helps support salaries for those working in conservation based tourism and in counter-poaching. Loss of income and jobs, in addition to the effects of the virus, have added immense pressure on the landscape. Increasing numbers of people have been forced to turn to poaching for bushmeat, often using snares which kill and injure non-target key species such as recently reintroduced lion, and leopard. In addition, pristine sand forest and miombo woodland is cleared for slash-and-burn agriculture to try and grow food. At the same time as poaching and forest clearing was on the increase, the funding for anti-poaching and important wildlife monitoring was greatly reduced through loss of tourism income. The generous funding awarded by Biopama has allowed for better food production, the ranger function to return to normal, monitoring and anti-poaching activities to continue so that wildlife can effectively be protected and conserved.
With the support of the Biopama grant, a great deal has been achieved thus far in 2021. Prof Alan Gardiner and Peter Hamming from the SAWC’s Research & Development department, as well as Clive van Rooyen from the Protected Area Integrity field ranger training department, have spent considerable time onsite in the Zambeze Delta working with the Zambezi Delta Safaris team. Together they have now implemented data collection using handheld devices and SMART (Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool) to assess and plan ranger movements, collect valuable data, automate, and standardise reporting from the field to the managers. This method allows rangers and managers to track their progress and work efforts in a highly visual and easy to interpret fashion. Together, the mixed patrols and standardised data collection, and consequent planning and monitoring represents current good practice for conservation management.
Alongside the efforts on ranger patrols, anti-poaching activities, and target species monitoring, the grant has also allowed for the provision of farming supplies, equipment, and advice. This is enabling local families to sustainably grow and harvest their own food without having to slash and burn new areas of pristine forest. This has been incredibly successful with rice harvests providing food security to the families of the rangers who now also have job security.
Thanks to the Biopama Rapid Response Grant funding has been received in order to provide relief for ranger salaries, fuel for the vital patrols, and research and development costs in order for the SAWC to support the rangers in the area. Furthermore, the community is gaining valuable benefits both from the continued employment of the rangers as well as the use of the agricultural field, yielding an excellent rice crop in June. The rice yield has been so high (5 tons per hectare) that it was decided that rice would be the most beneficial crop to plant again later in the year.
The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme aims to improve the long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in protected areas and surrounding communities.
It is an initiative of the ACP Group of States financed by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund (EDF), jointly implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC).READ MORE