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Protecting Wildlife and Livestock in Zambia

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Protecting Wildlife and Livestock in Zambia

Animal snares transformed into jewelry

Originally aired on August 7, 2007.

Today, the Luangwa Valley region of Zambia is one of Africa's prime wildlife sanctuaries and is world famous for its varieties of game and birdlife. But the land once-known as "The Crowded Place" and "The Kingdom of the Elephant" saw its share of hard times.

In the mid 1970s, the fall of global copper prices forced many Zambians to find new sources of income. Many Zambians resorted to hunting and killing black rhinos and elephants for their ivory horns and tusks. In the 1970s, Zambia had an elephant population of about 35,000, yet by the early 1990s only about 6,000 elephants were left. In east, central, and southern Africa, where the black rhino was dominant, less than 4,000 remained from a population of 65,000 in 1970.

Fortunately, conservation efforts and cooperation between governments, NGO's and individuals has wildlife flourishing today in many parts of Africa and especially Zambia's Luangwa Valley. Dr. Dale Lewis is a conservation scientist and Zambia Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society. He's creator of a program called COMACO which stands for Community Markets for ConservationCOMACO strives to show how humans and the environment can coexist through a unique approach that uses rural-based markets to support conservation. COMACO’s three main objectives lie in poverty reduction, sustainability and job creation.

Since its inception, COMACO has created a membership of more than 2,000 producer groups in the Luangwa Valley totaling more than 23,000 farmers. In addition to turning in their firearms, former poachers have handed over 33,000 wire snares. The World Conservation Society estimates that taking these guns and snares out of circulation saves at least 4,000 animals per year from illegal hunting in the region.

Dale Lewis has been in Zambia for some time and I asked him to tell us what brought him there…

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