Wildlife Tour - Kafue National Park [ Biz/ed Virtual Developing Country ]

Kafue National Park

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Kafue National Park
Kafue National Park Entrance

Kafue National Park is Zambia's oldest and largest national park. It became a National Park in 1950 and extends over an area of 22,000 sq. km. Despite Kafue's proximity to Lusaka and the Copperbelt it has remained underdeveloped.

As with the other wildlife parks of Zambia poaching is rife in the Kafue National Park. It can be loosely grouped into subsistence and commercial poaching. Subsistence poaching is on a much smaller scale (i.e. locals hunting bush meat for consumption of bartering for maize and cooking oil) and therefore poses less of a permanent threat to the existing wildlife. These poachers tend to be poorly equipped.

Contrasting with this 'barefoot and bikes' approach is that of the commercial poachers. The wildlife scouts entrusted to protect the park are much more wary when faced with evidence of tyre tracks or boot marks! The commercial poachers will have a more systematic approach - making temporary camps in the park and venturing out daily in their vehicles hunting and trapping animals. The bulk of their poaching (though not exclusively) would seem to be for meat rather than ivory or skins. Therefore they target most large mammals that they encounter including elephants, wildebeest, warthog, zebra and many species of antelope. As the larger species are declining smaller animals are being hunted.

Bush meat is substantially cheaper than farmed meat. Studies show that in many areas meat is the only source of protein. During periods of hardship such as droughts bush meat was very important source of food. Poverty thus directly impacts on animal populations.

The park scouts and rangers employed to control the illegal hunting are under-funded, lacking necessary equipment such as vehicles, binoculars, clothing (especially footwear) and weapons and ammunition (much of what they had was confiscated from poachers)

Kafue National Park
Kafue National Park

The repercussions for the wildlife are far ranging. Clearly the poaching affects numbers of animals and has been responsible for species disappearing from the park (there are rumoured to be only two remaining rhino's in Kafue but no verified sightings to support this. The poaching also has influenced the behaviour of the wildlife. The community of elephants based around the Itechi Techi lake, an area exposed to more poaching, are noticeably more skittish than other populations.

Despite the lack of wildlife management and the extensive poaching the park and its flora and fauna are an important resource with potential for economic development. At present tourism is under-developed within the Park. There are few lodges and a general lack of infrastructure. Tourists are a rare, and rather curious, sight. This is in contrast with other parks in Zambia, such as South Luangwe, where tourism is much more established. However it will not be easy to turn Kafue into an asset that generates foreign exchange for Zambia. Considerable investment is needed to turn the inefficient state run lodges into attractive modern enterprises that can compete with hotel accommodation elsewhere in Zambia such as South Luangwe, and Southern Africa. Other tourist infrastructure is also needed such as roads, tracks and vehicles. In addition as a result of the extensive poaching the wildlife is not habituated to human contact and will tend to either threaten or flee when encountered. This is not conducive to good game viewing!

Next issue - Fighting Poaching in North Kafue: A resource problem >>

Related Glossary Items:

Related Issues:
The Ivory Market
The Ivory Market - Part 2

Related Theories:
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
Regulating the ivory market