Project Update by Griffin Shanungu
Senior Ecologist, Department of National Parks and Wildlife & Zambia Programme Coordinator, International Crane Foundation/Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) with financial support from the Segre Foundation and in collaboration with International Crane Foundation (ICF) and WWF Zambia, is embarking on a three-year project titled “Restoring the Kafue Flats: An integrated Management of the Invasive Shrub Mimosa pigra. This project aims at controlling the continued spread of Mimosa pigra – an invasive plant species that is native to South and Central America. The spread of mimosa on the floodplain grasslands of the Kafue Flats is a source of great concern as this noxious weed is overtaking the habitat for wildlife including the Kafue Lechwe, Wattled Cranes and many waterbird species of conservation concern. The approach to take on this includes physical, chemical and biological control. The physical removal of mimosa started in the Lochinvar National Park. A total of 150 people have been employed to physically cut mimosa using hand held tools such as machetes and slashers. The 150 people employed are from the surrounding local communities of Chiefs Haamusonde and Choongo. Two camps have been set up in Lochinvar NP. The first camp (Chunga Camp) is situated along the shore of Chunga Lagoon 2 KM south of the Chunga Wildlife Scouts Camp. The aim of works at this camp are to remove mimosa on the shoreline of the Chunga lagoon. The large mimosa infestation here not only blocks access to watering areas for lechwe and other wildlife, it reduces the aesthetic beauty of the park by blocking views to the Lagoon. Thus targeting this infestation not only improves the park’s tourism potential but also restores the valuable habitat for the grazing herbivores and waterbirds. The second camp (Mulindi Camp) is situated on the western edges of the park on the boundary with the Kafue Flats Game Management Areas. Here the workers are targeting to removing mimosa on its invasion front and prevent it from spreading into un-infested areas. The large mimosa infestation on the north – eastern shorelines of the Chunga Lagoon near Hippo Corner is targeted for large scale aerial spraying – but only after the EPB is approved.
Our work has been greatly helped by procurement of a vehicle to support the works at Lochinvar National Park. Thanks to ICF and a generous donation by the Isdell Family Foundation, a Ford Ranger has been bought through BirdWatch Zambia to support project implementation for the next 3 years and beyond.
This ambitious project aims to reverse the adverse effects of invasive plants in the National Park and restore its ability to support waterbird and mammal populations that enhance the visitor experience.