Ludovika Malemba knows the rugged hills and dusty tracks of LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary like the back of her hand. She has patrolled many kilometers as a wildlife scout of the group conservancy since its establishment in 2001. A native of the vast wildlife-rich landscape in Taita-Taveta connecting Kenya’s Tsavo conservation area and Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania, she found her calling close to home. “I really like the work of rangers,” says Malemba, “I was a game scout when I was in primary school — conservation is in my blood.”
Nature photographer Billy Dodson, who has been donating images to African Wildlife Foundation for years, has compiled his stunning wildlife and landscape images into a new book. From Desert to Desert: A Journey Through the Heart of Southern Africa is a personal memoir and photographic study of six distinct countries and regions in sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Zambezi River Valley, and Namibia. AWF sincerely appreciates that Billy is donating proceeds from the sale of the book to support our work. Read AWF’s Q&A with Dodson.
Until 1993, the Great Ruaha River, the main source of water for wildlife in Ruaha National Park, flowed in the dry season. Since then, between September and late November every year, sections of the river disappear resulting in water scarcity for people and wildlife as well as loss of habitat which is devastating for water-dependent species like the hippo. Over these low-rainfall months, some individuals of other large mammals like elephants and buffalos move out of the protected area, sometimes raiding human settlements and farmland as they look for water.
The dense tropical rainforests of Maringa-Lopori-Wamba — a biodiversity hotspot in the Congo River Basin and critical habitat for endangered bonobos — are also a valuable income-generating resource for communities. Displaced by years of political instability, people settled in the remote landscape are some of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s poorest. To scrape a living, locals clear small sections to expand their farms or cut trees to make charcoal and sell firewood. Some even resort to hunting as the illicit trade of bush meat grows.
Gender inclusivity is becoming increasingly relevant in today’s professional world and changing the dialogue around the role of women in the workforce. On the African continent — whether it is through farming, agriculture, politics, economics, or conservation — new programs geared towards empowering women are surfacing.
People often ask why a conservation organization builds schools. For me, it’s an easy answer. Education is one of the primary ways to develop consciousness about how our actions impact the environment — both locally and globally. It is one of the most important means of empowering youth, engaging communities, fostering concern for wildlife and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources.
Uganda sits pretty as the pearl of Africa. It is beautiful, green, and fertile, and it is the region’s biggest producer of tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapples, and avocados. The country’s serene protected areas and iconic wildlife species add to its beauty and attract both local and international tourists. Tourism is a major driver of the country’s economy and makes a significant contribution to its GDP.
Encompassing diverse ecosystems, Africa’s network of protected areas is home to rare species facing a combination of threats — habitat conversion, poaching, and bush meat consumption are just some of them. While the challenges vary across landscapes, many national parks and reserves struggle to meet their budgetary needs. The financial shortfall is vast — according to McKinsey Group, the budget gap is estimated upwards of $1.7 billion annually for all developing nations. Uganda, for example — despite being one of the top 10 most biodiverse countries in the world — has a $15 million funding gap for protected area management.
Botswana’s Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act (or the Wildlife Act) enforces the protection of wild species and natural habitats, with a particular focus on keystone species slaughtered for the illegal trade in wildlife products. Offenses against rhinos attract both the highest fine — BWP 100,000 ($ 10,000) — as well as the longest prison term of 15 years. Other offenses involving the illegal killing of wildlife, hunting without permits, trade in wildlife and wildlife products, and dealing in wildlife trophies carry high prison terms ranging from five to 10 years.
Botswana is indeed one of the success stories in wildlife conservation on the continent. It has the largest population of elephants in Africa with about 200,000 individuals. To protect this large herd, along with other iconic wildlife species, the government has put in place strong measures to protect wildlife against criminal threats such as poaching and trafficking. As African Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Law Enforcement team prepares for the Wildlife Judicial and Prosecutorial Assistance Training in Botswana from June 5-7, 2018, we recognize the strides that the southern African country has made to protect its wildlife. For example, the Botswana Defence Forces are committed to protecting wildlife and fighting poaching in protected areas.