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Pete Swanepoel jnr - Chief Chifunda territory, 1984Pete Swanepoel jnr - Chief Chifunda territory, 1984

Saving Lions is our common purpose - we differ on the methods!

Amongst us in the Safari fraternity there lies an army more powerful, more dedicated and plenty more experienced to carry out the very essentials of conservation, than any other resource or group. We are not scientists, we don't have fancy PHD's and accolades of honor in the great conservation halls. 

As local Zambians, day in and day out, we protect those parts of rural Africa where safaris are a designated tool aimed at stopping biodiversity destruction. These are age old reserves declared by governments as multiple use zones with one concern in mind - stop human encroachment by providing an alternative source of income to the traditional methods of poaching, logging and slash and burn agriculture. 

To be sure, to truly hold the protection of a piece of Africa as priority, you need to have grown up in it, you need to have played and fondled in it and it needs to be part of your soul and very existence.

 

Lioness Matriarch - key to saving Africas LionsLioness Matriarch - key to saving Africas LionsLand for Lions is an initiative started by Pete Swanepoel - based upon a lifetime of living in the Zambian wilderness and interacting with Lions and all other creatures in close proximity.

I have been afforded the opportunity to witness and experience a great deal more than the average scientist or PHD working with one species in one area of Africa. I hold no science based education yet my hands on experience over 3 decades is unquestionable and valuable.

In Zambia I have lived in most of the protected areas for extended periods of time, I know the people and the officials throughout the country and I know the problems each area faces and the solutions that are needed to allow an acceptance of conservation principals - over an extended period of time.

I have traveled through much of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana over the last 25 years. In 2012 I set up a wildereness conservancy outside of Tete in Mozambique and operated  safaris and Coutada management in the wild Niassa reserve area. The Pembi Conservancy near Tete still operates today and is one of our long term focal areas.

Perhaps my strongest asset is that of being involved in the safari industry as an independent operator making use of the many different wilderness areas and seeing the failures and successes from a third party position - calling for a qualified and direct approach to solutions.

The decision to re examine the protected areas system in Zambia (and elsewhere) has been a pressing issue on my agenda for many years and now that we are facing dwindling resources in much of Africa it is necessary to redesign and adopt new measures for the protected area systems in Zambia.

A precedent and possible way forward exists in the large privately owned UNFENCED game ranches and conservancies which lie close to the PA's and National Parks and their success is already in practice and proven. Yet forces unique to the African environment of business, politics and tribalism prevent the logical and necessary transition to a secured future for biodiversity enhancement.

To be sure, one of the most pressing issues facing the future of Zambia's wilderness is the exclusion of the local people and their benefit from the land they rely upon. Public Private Partnerships are the solution to enhanced wilderness protection and the model of community based management and decision making over their resources is the way forward and one solution to more habitat and wildlife protection.