Sylvester Kampamba wins Disney Conservation Hero Award


Zambian Education Officer, Sylvester Kampamba, has been honoured with a Conservation Hero Award from the Disney Conservation Fund in recognition of his achievements teaching Zambian school children to protect rhinos. The award recognises local citizens for their commitment to reversing the decline of wildlife and engaging communities in conservation. Recipients from around the world were nominated by non-profit environmental organisations, and each honoree and his or her nominating organisation will share a $1,500 award from the fund.

 In the 1970s and 80s Zambia’s entire rhino population was poached; rhinos were officially declared extinct in 1998 after more than a decade without recorded sightings. Rhinos were reintroduced to Zambia in North Luangwa National Park by the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP) between 2003 and 2010. Animals were translocated from South Africa in what was then the biggest undertaking of its kind. Since the associated education programme began, the population has continued to grow and no rhinos have been poached in the region; bucking continental trends. (Across Africa, over 6,000 rhinos have been poached for their horns since the current poaching crisis began in 2006.)

Sylvester first came to work for the NLCP in 1997 as a casual labourer in preparation for the rhinos’ arrival. It soon became apparent he had a natural affinity with children and that conservation was his passion. “Without Sylvester there wouldn’t be an education programme” explains Claire Lewis, Technical Advisor to NLCP. “He is from the area and speaks the language, and he remembered what inspired him when he was a kid still at school and so has been instrumental to our success. When the children come to visit, they see all the employment opportunities conservationists can bring. They can become rangers, or mechanics, or work in education. He’s a real role model to them and this award is so well-deserved.

Through the Lolesha Luangwa conservation education program, Sylvester teaches children aged 11-14, specifically targeted as they are old enough to both understand conservation messages and to actively pass them on to their family and community; creating a ripple effect of ownership and responsibility for the region’s natural resources. Save the Rhino International has funded Lolesha Luangwa since 2006 and nominated Sylvester for a 2016 Disney Conservation Hero award. Save the Rhino Director Cathy Dean says: “It’s hard to think of a more inspiring and engaging individual, who has made spreading the message about the importance of conserving black rhinos among the local community his personal mission, and who does so with such effectiveness and enthusiasm.”

The Disney Conservation Fund focuses on reversing the decline of wildlife and increasing the time kids spend in nature. Since 2004, Disney has honored more than 100 Conservation Heroes from around the world for their extraordinary conservation efforts.

For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature and a complete list of 2016 Conservation Hero Award recipients, visit


About Lolesha Luangwa

Lolesha Luangwa, meaning “Look after Luangwa” is a pioneering conservation education programme fast becoming a blueprint for youth engagement with conservation across Africa. Run by Frankfurt Zoological Society’s North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP), each year, 1,400 pupils from 21 schools based around North Luangwa National Park’s boundaries are taught about rhinos and the importance of conservation. Lessons in the classroom and exposure visits via a three-day safari into the Park, where many see rhinos, elephants and other wildlife for the first time, enable them to learn about the benefits conservation brings.



Notes to editors


Zambia’s black rhinos

  • Historically Zambia was home to Africa’s third largest black rhino population
  • Every single black rhino in Zambia was killed during the 1970s and 80s
  • Zambia’s black rhinos were officially declared extinct in 1998 after a decade without any sightings of the animals
  • Between 2003-2010 the North Luangwa Conservation Project reintroduced rhinos to the Park, which remains the only region in Zambia with black rhinos
  • The reintroduction was the largest of its kind at the time and used black rhinos from South Africa with good genetic diversity
  • The aim of the translocation was to establish and grow a viable population of rhinos in Zambia and help use this charismatic cornerstone species to harness support for securing the wider eco-system in the Luangwa Valley against external threats such as poaching and habitat loss
  • The North Luangwa Conservation Programme protects about 8,500 square miles of one of Africa’s last truly great wildernesses

North Luangwa Conservation Programme

  • The North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP) is a partnership between the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Zambia Department of National Parks and Wildlife to conserve the North Luangwa ecosystem
  • The programme focuses on:
    • Protected area management
    • Law enforcement
    • Conservation education
    • Community based natural resource management
    • Endangered species conservation (black rhino)
    • Ecosystem, Park and GMA land use, policy, management, conservation and business planning
    • Ecosystem and species monitoring and evaluation
  • Activities are led by husband-and-wife team Ed Sayer (Project Manager) and Claire Lewis (Technical Advisor)
  • Zambian Ed and British Claire live in the Park with their three young children alongside myriad wildlife
  • In the next 3-5 years, NLCP aims to help the Park become sustainable for future generations of Zambians, through increased tourism and other sustainable-use opportunities
  • North Luangwa currently has a much lower tourism footfall than South Luangwa

Frankfurt Zoological Society

  • Frankfurt Zoological Society conserves wildlife and ecosystems focusing on protected areas and outstanding wild places.
  • In Africa, there are currently 11 projects and programmes in five countries (Ethiopia, DR Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania)

 Lolesha Luangwa

  • The Lolesha Luangwa education programme reaches 21 schools (1,400 children) and c. 5,000 community members living on the boundaries of the North Luangwa National Park each year
  • Teachers from the schools are provided with a Teachers’ Conservation Guide handbook, including lesson plans, activity ideas and supporting information
  • Children are provided with special conservation Activity Books that they can keep forever. Often, this is the only resource they will leave school with
  • Education Officer Sylvester Kampamba and his assistant Michael also provide support to teachers and make classroom visits in schools to help deliver lessons
  • The highlight of the scheme is a three-day visit by special bus to the Park, where children visit the beautiful landscape, meet rangers, and see wildlife up close for the first time

Sylvester Kampamba, Lolesha Luangwa Education Officer

  • Sylvester was born in Mukungule, where he still lives and in which one of the Lolesha Luangwa schools is based
  • He began working for NLCP as a part-time casual labourer in 1997 and in 1998-99 was employed as a full-time nanny for the young children of the-then Project Leader
  • In June 2003 he became responsible for looking after school groups
  • In 2004, he was appointed as conservation education programme officer
  • 2006: Save the Rhino began to support the education programme
  • 2009-10: Disney Conservation Fund and US Fish and Wildlife Service began to support the programme financially
  • 2012: The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) began to act as a mentor to the programme
  • Most of Sylvester’s work was initially unsupervised and unguided. He developed his teaching style independently from any prescribed training by recalling observations of his own teachers at secondary school
  • Sylvester has taught 10 years’ worth of pupils; the eldest are now adults with young families of their own
  • Sylvester’s Disney Conservation Award recognised that he has helped achieve including Increased black rhino conservation awareness in, primarily, 21 schools in villages surrounding North Luangwa National Park, reaching c. 1,500 schoolchildren per year. He has also increased black rhino conservation awareness in adult audiences (c. 5,000 people per year
  • Through this work, Sylvester has helped maintain a ‘none poached’ record against North Luangwa’s black rhino population since rhinos were reintroduced (in four phases, between 2003 and 2010)

Disney Conservation Fund

  • The Disney Conservation Fund focuses on reversing the decline of wildlife and increasing the time kids spend in nature.
  • Since 2004, Disney has honored more than 100 Conservation Heroes from around the world for their extraordinary conservation efforts.
  • For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature and a complete list of 2016 Conservation Hero Award recipients, visit


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