KALUMBILA, ZAMBIA – The Ministry of Tourism and Arts, through the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), has reinforced its partnership with the Trident Foundation in the conservation and restoration of one of the nation’s most important ecosystems.

Under the public-private-community partnership, the Foundation, which is a sustainable development arm of First Quantum Minerals (FQM), has committed to support the government’s restoration and management of the West Lunga Management Area for the next five years at a cost of K91.7 million.

Conservation of the area will help develop tourism and provide alternative livelihoods for local communities.

The partnership is the culmination of four years’ of support by FQM’s Trident Foundation and was demonstrated as the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) received the keys to new offices and 10 ranger houses that were constructed by the Foundation to provide the department with a permanent base in Kalende, Mufumbwe, from which to oversee conservation in the area.

The area, encompassing the West Lunga National Park, Chibwika-Ntambu and Lukwakwa Game Management Areas, has important ecological significance through its contribution to the head waters of the Zambezi and Kafue River systems, the presence of large tracts of Mavunda forest, and as a habitat for wildlife.

DNPW Director General Paul Zyambo and a senior entourage from DNPW Chilanga, along with Mufumbwe District Commissioner Masela Sekeseke and Chief Chizela, attended the ceremony to take possession of the buildings.

The leaders praised FQM’s Trident Foundation for the donation and for its on-going support in the West Lunga Management Area, urging the company to continue with the partnership as part of its broader community development work undertaken in health, education and livelihood support.

The company’s Trident Foundation has already invested over US$3 million in wildlife and conservation activities around the Sentinel Mine site at Kalumbila and the West Lunga Management Area. The project is primarily focused on supporting conservation activities on the ground including recruiting, training, equipping and paying rangers to patrol the protected area, infrastructure development and implementing conservation related livelihood programmes within the communities.

The company is also conducting capacity-building for communities in and around the West Lunga Management Area to venture into conservation activities that are key to the survival of national wildlife and parks, which can be a source of revenue generated from local and international tourism.

Currently the communities derive little benefit from the natural resources and the project aims to change that by providing the systems and infrastructure to support tourism, livelihood improvement, environmental education and sustainable agricultural practices.

“This investment includes restoring the population of mammal species that have become locally extinct or endangered, and reinstating the historical status of West Lunga as a breeding sanctuary for elephants, whilst preserving the integrity of the Mavunda forests,” said FQM country manager General Kingsley Chinkuli.

The WLMA once supported large numbers of wildlife species including elephant, buffalo, sable, roan, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, lion, leopard and wild dog. It was also once the stronghold of yellow-backed and blue duiker in Zambia.

The partnership between DNPW, FQM’s Trident Foundation and associated donor institutions aims to restore the WLMA to its full ecological potential and create an environment where large mammals and their iconic predators will once again exist. Furthermore, the ecosystem services provided by the WLMA are a vital component in Zambia’s efforts to contribute towards the global community’s initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change, explained General Chinkuli.

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