Cheetahs return to one of Africa’s most important wetlands in Zambia

Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia has received a small founding group of cheetahs – the first of their species to return to this unique community-owned, protected wetland in almost a century. On Thursday December 17th, the Government of Zambia announced the successful translocation of

An initial three cheetahs were translocated from South Africa in a collaboration between Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), African Parks, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Ashia Cheetah Conservation and National Geographic. 

The reintroduction of cheetahs is being undertaken to help restore Bangweulu’s biodiversity and aid efforts to secure safe spaces to promote the long-term survival of the species in the region.  

Dr Chuma Simukonda, Director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, said: “With the reintroduction of cheetahs to this extraordinary wetland, Bangweulu serves as a paragon for community conservation. Our unique partnership with the Community Resource Boards and African Parks has unlocked an opportunity here to help protect this vulnerable species from extinction in the wild, while helping to revitalise Bangweulu and enhance nature-based tourism.

“We are proud to be working together to preserve biodiversity, securing lasting benefits not just for local communities and for all Zambians – but as a contribution to securing a sustainable legacy for the planet.”

The cheetahs were safely released into temporary enclosures especially designed to support their acclimation and will be fitted with tracking collars to enable their long-term monitoring. The founder population is genetically unrelated and was sourced from three reserves, namely Mountain Zebra National Park (Eastern Cape), Rogge Cloof (Northern Cape) and Welgevonden (Waterberg, Limpopo).

At 6,570 km2, Bangweulu is of suitable size and habitat to support a viable cheetah population. Its connectivity to other protected areas provides the added potential of establishing a healthy metapopulation to promote the long-term persistence of the species in the region. 

With fewer than 7,000 cheetahs remaining in only a fraction of their historic range, safe protected areas are essential to the survival of the species in Africa’s wild landscapes.

The community-owned, protected wetlands of Bangweulu, which means ‘where the water meets the sky’, is not only a life source for a wide variety of wildlife, but supports 50,000 people who rely on the landscape’s rich resources. Progress to restore Bangweulu has seen poaching decline dramatically, wildlife populations steadily climb, and tourism and other enterprise projects contributing revenue to the area and its communities.

Image Credit: African Parks/Andrew Beck

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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