The Kafue National Park joins the portfolio of African Parks. The nature conservation organization is committed to managing Zambia's largest national park for a period of 20 years. African Parks' objectives are to improve the protection of the park's wildlife and to increase tourist visits.
The Zambian government is delegating the management of a third protected area to the South African non-governmental organization (NGO), African Parks. This is the Kafue National Park, Zambia’s largest, covering 22,400 square kilometers in the central west of the East African country.
“With this management partnership, the Zambian government is beginning the process of fully restoring Kafue as one of the largest conservation areas in Africa. In addition to investing in Kafue’s unique landscape and biodiversity conservation, we will also enhance Kafue’s contribution to the livelihoods of local communities and the national economy,” promises Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks.
The agreement signed on July 1, 2022 in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, follows the conclusion of a 16-month Priority Support Plan (PSP), initiated in February 2021 by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and African Parks. Funded with $3.6 million from the Dutch Postcode Lottery Dream Fund grant and supported by The Nature Conservancy and the Elephant Crisis Fund, the PSP consisted of providing technical and financial support to Kafue. This included building a new law enforcement center, rehabilitating existing infrastructure, grading 2,000 km of roads, conducting an aerial survey of the entire landscape, and creating 150 permanent jobs.
A 20-year management contract
The management agreement for Kafue National Park provides for a full 20-year mandate. African Parks will be required to implement a holistic management plan, including the continuation of the work defined in the PSP. Priorities for 2022 include work to improve visitor access, development of community facilities and projects, an improved communications network, and operationalization of the wildlife law enforcement center.
The Zambian government first partnered with African Parks in 2003 in the Liuwa Plain National Park in the west of the country and again in 2008 in the Bangweulu Wetlands in the northeast.
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Kafue National Park is the 20th park to join the African Parks portfolio. The conservation NGO wants to make it one of the most unique tourist destinations in Africa. The park is one of the world’s most important natural heritage sites and a key water source for the Kavango Zambezi transboundary region. It is also one of the last remaining large areas of the iconic Zambezi ecoregion, home to elephants, large predators, 21 species of antelope and 515 species of birds.