Lolesha Luangwa in depth

Lolesha Luangwa is a part of The North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP) and is managed and co-ordinated by technical advisor Claire Lewis from the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS). NLCP is a FZS programme and a Zambian NGO established in 1986 to add capacity to, and to work in partnership with, the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA). NLCP supports ZAWA in all aspects of the conservation and management of the wildlife of the North Luangwa National Park (NLNP) and surrounding Game Management Areas.

Lolesha Luangwa aims to use the black rhino as a flagship species that will facilitate local schoolchildren to learn about, and to play an active role in, the conservation of the North Luangwa Valley. Lolesha Luangwa aims to do this by:

  • Raising awareness and understanding of the conservation of the North Luangwa Valley and the benefits that this brings to local school children and their communities;
  • Generating a sense of empathy, ownership and responsibility amongst local school children for the conservation of the North Luangwa Valley, and more specifically black rhinos 
  • Promoting key messages to secondary audiences

Lolesha Luangwa structure
The programme consists of five elements:
1. Conservation lessons taught in schools by teachers
2. Special presentation outreach visits by the LL officers from NLCP
3. Conservation Celebration Days
4. Experiential school visits into North Luangwa National Park
5. Monitoring and evaluation

Conservation lessons and special presentations
The education programme is aimed at Grade 5/6 children (ages 11-14) in 21 schools in three zones surrounding the Park. This age group has been chosen as their understanding and language skills are sufficiently developed to tell a reliable story about the experience. The aim is therefore that children will act as important message multipliers telling stories about their learning and experiences with family members including younger siblings and elders. Decision-makers at a district government and village community levels are important secondary audiences for both programs.

Each school has a nominated Conservation Teacher who delivers 20 conservation lessons from a 96-page Teachers’ Conservation Guide which has been developed in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Each student is given 64-page Activity Workbook filled with pages of quizzes, creative writing and drawing, and maths, to complete in the lessons throughout the year. The teacher-taught curriculum has three modules, progressing from knowledge-based factual content to addressing local and global conservation issues with achievable actions. A fourth module is delivered by the LL officers, Sylvester Kampamba and Michael Eliko, who visit each school 4-5 times per year for special presentations that reinforce the taught element by using the black rhino as a focus for conservation efforts. The presentations look at the history of black rhinos in Zambia; the threats to their survival as a species; and the reintroduction programme in North Luangwa National Park as a case study of conservation in action. Emphasis is placed on the high level of security required for the black rhino; the benefits that come from having black rhinos in the National Park, through employment of ZAWA officers and tourism; how individual choices and actions impact on the environment; and suggesting positive steps that schoolchildren, their families and local communities can take to assist conservation
Sylvester and Michael are equipped with a vehicle, mobile generator (as schools do not have electricity), digital projector and various teaching resources. The visits are always well-received as the children do not have access to such taken-for-granted luxuries as digitally supported lessons. Pupils gain a deeper insight into some of the challenges to conservation, the structures that exist in their area to promote conservation, and the consequences to the communities if the Luangwa Valley ecosystem is not protected.

Conservation celebration days
The programme ends in Sept / Oct with a Conservation Celebration Day (CCD) in each of the three zones surrounding NLNP. 25 students and two teachers from each school are transported to a central venue for a full day of celebrations and competition. Entire villages and VIPs come to watch. Each school must present a play, sing songs and transmit conservation messages, providing opportunities for experience-sharing between participating schools, for engaging with wider audiences, and for monitoring and evaluation. On average celebration days reach up to 1-2,000 people.

Park visits
In 2013 NLCP acquired, through donations from SRI and USFWS, a converted Mercedes truck to facilitate the transport of groups of up to 20 school children into North Luangwa National Park to experience wildlife first hand. The visits, beginning in 2014, will be choreographed with input from ZSL to produce maximum conservation impact, and build on the Lolesha Luangwa aims and objectives.

Monitoring and evaluation
It is vital to monitor and evaluate how well a programme is performing against its objectives. Every level of LL has in-built monitoring and evaluation components (teacher, LL officer, student, community) and ZSL supports the programme with the design as well as the subsequent analysis or results, which feedback into adapting resources and improving the reach and impact the programme can have.

Capacity building
Sylvester Kampamba has been on exposure visits to other education programmes within Zambia, and in February 2011 he visited the Laikipia Wildlife Forum to see its Environmental Education and Literacy Programme in action. Sylvester and Michael are mentored by the Zoological Society of London. In 2013 ZSL and LL staff ran three teacher training workshops to take the conservation teachers through the teacher’s training guide, and in 2014 the LL officer’s facilitated a workshop for another NGO implementing the NLCP teacher and student materials.

Habitat and other species:
The Luangwa valley is the oldest part of the well-known Great Rift Valley on the continent. It is dominated by the river of the same name running through its centre sandwiched between the Mafinga and Muchinga escarpments in the east and west respectively. Moist miombo, Combretum-Terminalia and mopane woodlands as well as the wildlife-dense alluvial floodplains provide the majority of habitats.
North Luangwa National Park (4,636 km²) is located in the mid- to upper Luangwa Valley in Muchinga Province of northern Zambia. As well as providing an important habitat for the Critically Endangered black rhino (Diceros bicornis minor), North Luangwa National Park also supports a wide variety of species including the remaining Big 5 species - elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard; the endemic Cookson's wildebeest and Crawshay's zebra; the continent’s greatest concentration of hippo; a growing population of wild dog; many more impala, puku, greater kudu, eland, waterbuck, warthog, spotted hyena, baboon, vervet monkey, and over 400 species of birds.

Visiting North Luangwa
There are a few, upmarket, seasonal camps in North Luangwa National Park specialising in walking safaris.

Credit NLCP