To provide Welfare, Training and Operational Support to wildlife personnel on the front line of endangered species protection.
The GRI – Kafue Conservation Department was started in 2013 with the aim of supporting the security and integrity of the wildlife in the Greater Kafue National Park (gKNP), Zambia, in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of viable eco-systems for the benefit of local people.
The KCP adopts a holistic approach to conservation, which embraces the following disciplines:
- Law Enforcement
- Community Outreach & Education
- Park Maintenance & Developments
KCP aims to work closely with all the parks stakeholders: the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), local communities as well as tour operators and lodges within and around KNP.
Law Enforcement and Training
This is the central pillar of the department, and aims to protect the wildlife in the park by countering illegal wildlife activity within and around the KNP. The Kafue Conservation department is supporting and empowering existing DNPW units through enhanced training and equipment to confront today’s wildlife threats. GRI is supporting DNPW’s Special Anti-Poaching Unit (SAPU), with a permanent base at Hook Bridge in the centre of the Park, as well as a number of regional Anti-Poaching Units (APU’s) in strategic areas within the park. The longer-term aim is to increase the number of APU’s for better security in the Park and its Game Management Areas (GMA’s).
The Special Anti-Poaching Unit (SAPU) is a DNPW Unit, which is supported by KCP. It comprises of three Rapid Response Teams, each comprising of six DNPW Officers. SAPU is an Intelligence Led Law Enforcement Unit, with the primary objective of eliminating poaching hotspots within the Park, as well as disrupting illegal wildlife trade routes.
SAPU’s operations extend across the entire KNP, including all the neighbouring GMA’s. In addition, SAPU is also available to act as a ‘Strike Force Team’ to DNPW’s Intelligence and Investigations Unit (IIU). SAPU can be deployed wherever and whenever the office of the DCM, DNPW deems necessary. There are always two Rapid Response Teams available to respond to intelligence and provide immediate coverage at hotspots within the Operational Area. SAPU’s day-to-day anti-poaching operations are commanded and co-ordinated by DNPW officers from the SAPU HQ with oversight by the DNPW Senior Warden for KNP.
There are currently three Anti-Poaching Units supported by GRI in KNP. Each APU is comprised of three teams of six officers, a combination of DNPW Wildlife Police Officers and Village Scouts.
Busanga APU: day-to-day anti-poaching operations are commanded and co-ordinated from the Kabanga Patrol Base, located in the north of the Park. Overall command remains with Mumbwa and Chunga Area Management Units.
Nkala APU: day-to-day anti-poaching operations are commanded and co-ordinated from the Shanangoma Patrol Base, located in the south of the Park. Overall command remains with Ngoma Area Management Unit
Marine Unit: Support Anti-Poaching activities on Lake Itezhi Tezhi.
KCP aims to establish more APU’s with increased protection across the whole KNP as a goal. In 2016, an APU will be established in Nanzhila plains in the south of the Park and a Marine Unit will support Anti-poaching activities on Lake Itezhi Tezhi.
Fire Fighting Unit
The Fire Fighting Unit (FFU) comprises of one team of five trained fire fighters and a fully equipped Fire Fighting Vehicle. The FFU provides fire management and fire fighting support, and all activities are coordinated with the Park Ecologist.
KNP covers a vast area and the foundation of the KNP Aerial Unit is a game changer for GRI. ‘Eyes in the Sky’ will provide the APU’s with rapid information on incursions and activities in remote parts of the park. The 3D view of the park will complement the on-the -ground view of the APU’s when pursuing threats. Aerial surveys will also form a vital data gathering tool for the re-established KCP Research department. GRI have sourced funding for the purchase of a Light Sport Aircraft, construction of an airstrip, hanger and fuel depot, as well as training for 2 pilots. The plane will be operational early 2016.
Park Developments and Maintenance
The Park Developments and Maintenance Departmental aims are threefold.
- To provide all infrastructure developments for GRI operations within the Park, such as the construction of the GRI-Zambian Primate Project release Pens or the KCP Field Headquarters.
- To ensure all KCP assets and vehicles are properly maintained.
- To ensure that park developments benefit the wider community. For instance a pump, pumphouse, tank stand and water tank were installed at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) Chunga Training camp.