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Saving species by empowering communities

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  • Quick Facts:


    4,664,645 hectares (18,010 sq. mi.)

  • Key Landmarks

    1. Zambezi River
    2. Mana Pools National Park
    3. Lower Zambezi National Park


Recognized by humans as three distinct countries but by wildlife as a single vast ecosystem, the Zambezi Landscape is a prime example of AWF’s landscape-level conservation efforts. This Landscape spans parts of Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The Zambezi River, tributaries, acacia floodplain, and interconnecting wetlands are home to many species of plants and animals, including hippos, elephants, black rhinos, wild dogs, cheetah, and lions.

Tags: Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa


When wild lands become farmland, elephants have a feast.

Growing human populations and sprawling settlements are disrupting wildlife movement patterns in the Zambezi Landscape. The 40,000 elephants there are, in turn, invading communities’ land and raiding crops that people depend on for their livelihoods. This tension hurts both people and wildlife, putting elephants in the Zambezi Landscape at greater risk for losing their habitat and being poached.

Unsustainable resource use threatens the Zambezi River.

Poverty and food insecurity force many people in the Zambezi Landscape to turn to unsustainable activities for income. Slash-and-burn farming, charcoal burning, quarry stone crushing, and overfishing all degrade the Zambezi River ecosystem. The upper part of the river alone feeds 300,000 people and harbors tilapia, tigerfish, and the great Vundu catfish, among other species. But, the degradation of the river means that, eventually, it may no longer be able to support wildlife, tourism, or local people.


Our solutions to the challenges in the Zambezi Landscape:

  • Make elephants at home inside and outside national parks.

    African Wildlife Foundation worked with communities to designate specific zones for wildlife corridors, conservation, human settlement and agriculture, and fishing. Zoning reduces human-elephant conflict and, better yet, has created two new elephant protection areas: the 28,000-hectare Mutulan'ganga Forest Reserve in Zimbabwe and the 16,000-hectare Shange Conservancy in Zambia. AWF has also supported projects in and between Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia and Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, keeping the gentle giants safe as they move between the two parks.

  • Deploy goats and fish to combat degradation.

    To create sustainable income opportunities, AWF helped establish two cooperatives that manage resources for the benefit of wildlife and local communities. The Simbamba Goat Producer and Marketing Cooperative in Zambia includes 90 households. AWF trained members in improved husbandry techniques and provided two goats for each household’s herd in exchange for a $10 registration fee. The cooperative sells the goats in local and urban markets, earning valuable income for its members. The Ngwena Commercial Fishing Cooperative in Zimbabwe, which employs sustainable fishing methods to protect the Zambezi River, is a similar community conservation enterprise. Both cooperatives help members earn income without overexploiting natural resources in the Zambezi Landscape, keeping the river and surrounding lands healthy so they can support diverse wildlife.


Explore some of our related projects. 

  • Elephants Robyn Gianni
    Zambezi Elephant Conservation
    Securing habitats for Southern Africa’s giants

    Elephants don’t know borders.

    Elephant populations in Southern Africa roam freely across many countries, seeking food, water, and suitable habitat. As a result,...

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  • Chiawa Cultural Village Craig R. Sholley
    Chiawa Cultural Village
    Celebrating the Goba people and their deep connection to the environment

    Local tourism was not benefitting the community. 

    The banks of the Zambezi River are home to the Goba people who constitute the Chiawa Chiefdom, located in Zambia. The...

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    All Projects

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