Conservation South Luangwa, which patrols a colossal 1.4 million hectares and relies solely on private donations and grants, had an immensely successful 2022 in terms of conserving wildlife, preserving habitats, deepening the team’s skills and fostering even stronger bonds with surrounding communities.

Here’s a quick overview of the team’s achievements in 2022 and how you can help them do even more work in and around South Luangwa National Park

Images supplied by Conservation South Luangwa

Cats and Canids

A wild dog and a hyena were de-snared and there have been no reports of ensnared lions since July 2021 (three elephants, a zebra and four giraffes were also safely removed from snares). In addition, 62 domestic dogs and cats were spayed or neutered, helping to reduce these prolific breeders that threaten wildlife, especially birds and smaller mammals and reptiles.

A whopping 576 snares were cut out of the bush – more than 10 every week on average, which shows the scale of the problem CSL faces.

Ellies vs Villagers: A Win-win

Hungry elephants can decimate crops and water reserves, leading to heightened human-wildlife conflict in which pachyderms generally come off as second best. In 2022, CSL helped train 30 new ‘chilli patrollers’ in four chiefdoms, harvested 3.3 tons of chillies and did a two-kilometre ‘smelly fence’ trial.

In addition, an unsettling 532kg of ivory was also confiscated but poachers didn’t get away with their crimes scot-free:

  • 125 firearms were confiscated (up by 23%)
  • 198 wildlife crime suspects were arrested
  • 265 poachers’ camps were destroyed
  • 989kg of illegal bushmeat was confiscated (up by 37%)

K9 Law Enforcement In Action

Dogs to the Rescue!

The K9 unit went from strength to strength: an outstanding achievement was the recovery of two live pangolins and a monkey (but also, tragically, five pangolin bones, 172 pangolin scales and a python skin).

The dogs searched more than 11 600 vehicles (almost a thousand a month), more than 6 600 motorbikes and more than 7 800 bicycles. The unit also welcomed a new doggie member, boosting its capacity.

Eye in the Sky

The aerial unit was also very busy; without them, identifying poachers’ camps and elephant carcasses would be much more difficult. They racked up hundreds of hours in patrols, support operations and surveillance, in addition to providing key observational data on wildlife populations.

Anti-poaching Boots on the Ground

There is no substitute for trained CSL scouts conducting a colossal 43 000km of foot patrol coverage and 102 community sweeps. A hundred scouts got refresher training and a dedicated target team was formed.

More than Money: How You can Help on Your Holiday

As everyone knows, money is vital. Any amount makes a genuine difference so don’t feel like your donation is only a drop in the Luangwa River. You can make a financial contribution here.

If you’re on safari, self-driving or camping in South Luangwa, then you can also contribute to CSL’s efforts in other ways:

1. Support lodges and camps that support CSL

Many accommodation options have a bed night levy that helps fund CSL. Ask your lodge or camp if they are contributors.

2. Report ensnared or injured animals ASAP

There are three ways of doing this:

  • Tell your lodge/campsite manager immediately when you get back
  • Stop at the CSL working base in Mfuwe
  • Tell any safari guide or park ranger you see – they will pass the information on (it doesn’t have to be a guide from a lodge you’re staying at: all guides give report-backs after game drives)

Accuracy and time are of the essence in situations like this so make notes of:

  • Sex, age and condition of the animal
  • Herd, pride or mate still nearby
  • Location – be as accurate as possible (how far from your accommodation? Landmarks? Which road? Which direction?)
  • The time you found the snare
  • Take photos or video footage and send it on ASAP

Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to release or treat the animal. The CSL has a professional veterinary unit with the correct equipment and drugs. It is far more useful to them for you to make a report as soon as possible than risk injuring yourself or worsening the animal’s situation.

3. Report anything unusual

If you hear gunshots or see smoke in a place that isn’t a village, don’t brush it off. It’s better to call in something that turns out to be nothing than to ignore an indicator of suspicious behaviour.


4. Support sustainable artisanship

The woodworkers of South Luangwa are very talented and their craft and livelihoods must be balanced with the need to preserve old-growth forest areas and mature indigenous hardwoods. Talk to craftspeople about how they source their materials (some are from dead trees hit by lightning or toppled by elephants, for example).

5. Tag CSL in your social media posts

Not only do they love seeing your footage and imagery but interacting with their Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter accounts get their message out there to more people who love wildlife as you do.

6. Don’t be scared of asking questions

A big part of CSL’s work is involving the community. After all, there is no conservation without people. Talk to your guide, butler, waitress, housekeeper or shop assistant about South Luangwa and its challenges and solutions. Talk about what you appreciate so that everyone can see that it’s worth preserving biodiversity for the future.