Besides Lupani Primary School and Machenje Fishing Lodge, a number of other key AWF projects—in this area that includes Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—are bringing benefits to wildlife and people in the Kazungula landscape.
To hear Craig Sholley tell it, AWF never intended to build schools. Supporting capacity building and opportunities for conservation education, sure. But physically building a school?
To some African communities, the presence of wildlife is perceived as a threat to their livelihoods. Elephants are crop eating, water tank tipping nuisances. Lions are cattle attacking predators. Routine chores involve the added danger of stumbling upon a hippo or crocodile at the riverbank.
To others, where there is wildlife, they see opportunity. For many African nations, tourism is one of the fastest-growing economic sectors. In fact, Tanzania’s earnings topped 1.88 billion US Dollars in 2013, superseding gold as their number one foreign exchange earner.
Two contrasting scenes stand out in my mind when I remember my past as a young boy herding my father’s cattle in the former wildlands of Domboshava, Zimbabwe. Mountains covered with forest full of diverse, juicy wild fruits—this was the common scenery in my early days as a herd boy, unforgettable, and one I cherished and so dearly loved. I remember the scenery changing, my beloved forests and flowing rivers were slowly replaced by bare mountains, lethargic rivers and leafless remnants of bushy trees still standing.
Camera in hand, Becky traveled across Kazungula's landscapes and shared her experiences with AWF. Here she circles Victoria Falls between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabawe from a helicopter.