It takes a village to... change the world

Full name
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

When we put community development and conservation at the heart of what we do, it creates paid employment, development projects, health care, education, access to water, women’s empowerment, entrepreneurial support and commercial opportunities and stability. 

In order for us to reach our mission, ‘community’ has become the essential ingredient for economic growth and the successful rehabilitation of ecosystems and protection of wildlife.

Community engagement is a vital piece of the puzzle of what we do. It is the innovative element in conservation that has shaped the success of the Akashinga model. IAPF’s success is powered by strong collaboration and partnerships with the local communities we operate in that support success in wildlife conservation.

And now, as your support makes it possible for us to expand the Akashinga footprint to help more communities and protect more wildlife, our focus turns to the Songo Conservancy, in the Lower Zambezi Valley. Over the span of 20 years, 75% of elephants have been wiped out in the greater Sebungwe region in which Songo resides. For the rest of 2020, we’re on a mission to fund the rejuvenation of Songo and beautiful Lake Kariba to ensure the protection of wildlife (on land and water) in one of the hardest hit regions for poaching in the world.

We want to prove with you, once again, that breaking the cycle of illegal wildlife trafficking can be achieved through community development.  

Your donation supports our work with the local villages surrounding Songo in rehabilitating the land and marine environments and training and deploying local women to protect the wildlife that will return to this area of wilderness that previously was unsafe for them.

Your support also enables the IAPF to secure long term contracts to manage and protect new areas of wilderness like Songo. Right now, Songo has no infrastructure in place like camps, training facilities and sleeping quarters that will allow rangers to stay and patrol for extended periods of time.  We need your help to create more infrastructure in Songo and employ people within the local communities to meet the demands of expanding further into the Zambezi Valley.

For many communities in Africa, poaching has been their livelihood. IAPF’s role is to create alternative livelihoods, motivate conservation, and in the long-term create photographic tourism opportunities for them. Every small step we take in partnership with local communities helps them get closer to restoring their sovereign lands to the way they were prior to the devastating effects that wildlife trafficking had on their elephant and wildlife populations.

Preparation is key

Preparation has already begun to get the lands of the Songo Conservancy and Lake Kariba  ready for the return of wildlife and we will soon commence the selection, training and deployment of new Akashinga rangers.

We have already witnessed a wonderful sense of community as local men, women and children have come together with the IAPF team to clear litter from the shoreline in front of fishing villages along Lake Kariba as well as removing rubbish and clearing overgrown vegetation across land and water.

Girl In a red dress

We have put out the call to local communities to offer paid employment to local people in labor and construction roles to help build our training camps, furniture, facilities and to repair and construct roads to provide easier access for local communities to trade and commute.

Our impact out in the field

Along with clearing rubbish and repairing and building the vital infrastructure needed, the IAPF team are in full ‘action mode’ in sourcing all the logistics and supplies required for stage one of  rehabilitating Songo. Installing comms and solar equipment to aid the critical wifi and power needed for rangers to operate is one of the first priorities we undertake. Additionally, we are developing or repairing local water supplies, creating extensive vegetable gardens and equipping a local medical clinic with supplies to ensure the health and safety of the community and the Akashinga rangers.

Building communications and plants

The Songo Conservancy and Lake Kariba are set within some of the most remote parts of Zimbabwe which can provide many logistical challenges. Our team has to source barges to transport critical items like fuel, tools, equipment, medical supplies across Lake Kariba - a very costly and dangerous exercise.  We’ve even had to risk getting up close and personal with dangerous marine wildlife as our team repaired equipment submerged in crocodile and hippo-infested water.

Our operations teams have also been hard at work targeting Zambian fishing rigs illegally crossing Lake Kariba into Songo and have successfully uncovered quite a few fishing boats and kilometres of illegal nets housed in hidden camps. 

Removal of fishing nets and old boats

This is a big win that sends a clear message: Songo is now under the protection of its surrounding communities and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.

And it’s working. 

We have already started to see signs of wildlife returning, with a herd of elephants coming into the floodplains in broad daylight and buffalo seen on the Songo airstrip. A magnificent sight to see and one that means wildlife are starting to feel safe enough to return.

Wildlife returning

As a valued supporter, you’ve heard about the unspeakable effects poaching has on wildlife,  communities and vital ecoregions. Today, we wanted to remind you that whilst we are making great strides in reversing the effects of poaching, its devastation is still very much being felt within the Lower Zambezi Valley and you can help right now.

If you’ve ever wondered how you can create lasting change for the protection of elephants, rhinos, buffalo and other precious wildlife as well as tangibly impact the lives of entire communities - your support of Akashinga is just the way to do that. The value of your donation creates a direct positive impact in communities, in womens’ lives, and on our natural world. Every single dollar you give will do so much good.

People like you have been helping communities and wildlife through us since 2009. Thanks to generous friends like you, our Akashinga footprint is fuelled and ready to expand into new lands, wildlife and communities that need the most help right now. We’ll stretch every dollar you give to ensure you help the greatest number of people and wildlife in the most transformational way.

Your donation will bring the end of wildlife trafficking in the Songo Conservancy closer than ever. You are helping to provide employment opportunities and community development projects which will resurrect, rehabilitate and rejuvenate wilderness and wetlands in ways that ensure the return of wildlife.

Help now and do twice the good

We won't stop until the future for wildlife and these Songo communities is secured.  

Your gift is vital now as we commence rehabilitation of the land and start the selection process of 100 women, living in the local communities surrounding the Songo Conservancy. 30 of these will go on to become a professional and cohesive team of Akashinga rangers protecting the natural heritage of the area. 

As we expand Akashinga across the Zambezi Valley, we need your help to raise $1 million. Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $500,000 by 18th December - so each dollar you give will do twice the good.

Your gift, no matter how small, powers the expansion of our Akashinga model and ensures the protection of wildlife and empowerment of women and communities that need it most.

This is your time to shine.

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