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Project leader Ed Sayer speaks about challenges of the rhino reintroduction and the future of the FZS North Luangwa Conservation Programme.

"Rhinos have brought a focus on North Luangwa"

Rhinos are under pressure for many reasons and have already once suffered local extinction in Zambia. Can North Luangwa National Park support a healthy black rhino population?
Yes. There is no doubt there are challenges, though. The Zambian black rhino population was poached to extinction in the 1980s and a lot of suitable habitat has been lost over the last century. However, Zambia still has significant land under protection of which the North Luangwa ecosystem is a relatively pristine 22,000 km2, with the National Park at its heart. The current rhino population is intensely protected. We support the national authorities and the local communities to put in effective law enforcement and I believe that if we can win the battle against the current severe poaching threat, then this population will become very significant

The use of dogs in anti-poaching and law-enforcement has an increasingly proven track record of success in a number of conservation areas across Africa

On the scent of wildlife crime

The words ‘sniffer dog’ conjure up images of beagles and spaniels at baggage carousels at airports sniffing out illicit drugs. But a dog’s nose can be trained for just about anything. Dogs working hand in paw with conservation projects are a relatively recent addition to the law enforcement strategy toolbox yet they are energetic, effective and efficient and are unmatched by any technology currently available. Dogs in Zambia are helping the fight against the trafficking of illegal wildlife products.The last 30 years of FZS support in North Luangwa has led to the reduction in poaching of the 1980s and 1990s and the successful reintroduction to Zambia of black rhinos. But in this decade, the challenge of all that hard work is being threatened by international criminals fuelled by greed, the demand for illegal wildlife products, and links to other economically destabilising activities. The North Luangwa Conservation Programme has a proven record of good management and successful operations but new strategies and technologies are needed to upscale anti-poaching efforts, to stem the rising threat. The development of the North Luangwa Canine Unit (NLCU) is causing great excitement to counter this.

the lolesha luangwa project

Heads, Hands, Hearts

The North Luangwa education programme was launched in 2003 to coincide with the arrival of the first relocated black rhinos. The programme is now officially named ‘Lolesha Luangwa,’ which means ‘look after Luangwa’ in the local Bemba language. The overall aim is to create a sense of ownership and responsibility for the conservation of the North Luangwa Valley and its black rhinos using it as the focal species for engaging and educating children."Rhino Roadshow" with the SEKA theatre group. Lolesha Luangwa tackles conservation education and awareness from several angles to ensure messages are delivered and more importantly passed on to parents and the wider community. There are 21 schools taking part and four strands to the programme: a 17- lesson curriculum has been developed that is taught by schools’ teaching staff throughout the academic year; FZS officers deliver four special black rhino focussed presentations to each school; a community event is organised annually in each participating school community; and a specially adapted truck brings school groups into the park for overnight visits.