The Bangweulu Wetlands in Northern Zambia cover an area of 6000km2 – requiring huge efforts to police illegal hunting activities, many of them in near-inaccessible waterlogged areas spread over wide distances. The park is mostly famous for its endemic black lechwe, and its iconic rare and threatened shoebills which are protected in the park against the live bird trade. Since African Parks took over management of the wetlands in 2008, other game populations are also increasing, and lechwe populations have almost doubled. But the fight against poaching is ongoing and patrols form part of a larger strategy to protect the area – focusing on a combination of snare removals, arrests, confiscations of illegally harvested fish and animals and illegal firearms and fishing nets.
Boat and foot patrols form the main body of anti-poaching activities in the heart of the wetlands, while horse patrols operate in the east of the park in the miombo woodland areas surrounding the headquarters at Nkondo. The Bangweulu Wetlands model is unique in that it is not a National Park but is instead a Game Management Area - meaning that the land belongs to the local communities who live within it and have rights to fish and harvest resources from it.
Re-enactments of poacher arrests (left and below) help the scouts to prepare for a encounters with poachers.