Calls to action for the protection of African wildlife are often heard from international communities. In Zambia we recently called the world and our own country to action to celebrate and conserve our beautiful and rare biodiversity at this year’s EleFest!
On 14 May, over a thousand people gathered at EleFest 2016 in Lusaka to celebrate wildlife conservation in Zambia. The music and arts festival was attended by the Director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, Mr. Paul Zyambo, as well as over a thousand members of the public, conservation organisations and supporters, artists and musicians.
The highlight of the festival was the headline act Mokoomba, an acclaimed Zimbabwean Afropop band, just back from their US tour. Mokoomba shared the stage with several household names of Zambian afro-jazz and soul who are trumpeting their support for the conservation of Zambia’s wildlife including Maureen Lilanda, James Sakala and the Elect Band, Wezi Heartsound, Mumba Yachi and Kapiri Mposhi 4.0.
The show culminated with a spine-tingling live performance of the “Our Zambia Our Wildlife” song by the “EleGends”. Watch the music video below.
EleFesters were also invited to learn more about conservation through exhibitions from Conservation Lower Zambezi, Game Rangers International, BioCarbon Partners, Zambia Carnivore Programme, Zambia Tourism Board and WWF Zambia. Jigsaw puzzles, quizzes, GIS maps and other activities took the conservation message to new audiences.
Other fantastic performances included Chembo, the Zambelles, Dance Africa and the theatre group from the Mukambi Community School of Kafue National Park. And a nightclub in a container, named the “Footloose Mongoose” kept festival goers warm and dancing when the sun went down!
Zambia is home to a breathtaking diversity of rare wildlife and habitats. It is home to the world’s largest mammal migration (straw coloured fruit bats, Kasanka National Park), second largest wildebeest migration (Liuwa Plain National Park), one of the world’s most important African wild dog strongholds (Kafue National Park) and lion strongholds (South Luangwa National Park).
The elephant population of Zambia is one of the most significant in Africa but their numbers are threatened by ivory poaching and habitat loss. Experts have reported that 100 elephants are being killed every day in Africa. Elephants are killed for their ivory tusks, which are used for ornaments and medicine mostly in Asia.
Zambia’s elephant population has reduced to a tenth of numbers which were reported 50 years ago. In the 1960s Zambia was home to approximately 250,000 elephants, whereas today estimates reach only around 21,000. Recent reports have congratulated the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and supporting conservation organisations in halting the rapid decline experienced in previous years, but now the challenge is to continue to protect the remaining vulnerable populations from the ever-present threat of poaching.
It’s not just ivory and other trafficking but also the illegal bushmeat trade which threatens elephants as well as almost all other Zambian animals. Eating meat from wild animals killed illegally has been reported as the the primary cause of decline of wild animals across Africa. Bushmeat is harvested mainly by the use of wire snares. Every day, poachers may use thousands of such snares across Zambia. It is estimated that almost 90% of animals caught in snares are not collected by poachers, but left to rot. Bushmeat poaching is the least efficient use of any wildlife resource. The bushmeat trade is in no way sustainable and highly destructive of Zambia’s wildlife. As well as damaging to the environment, eating bushmeat can also be very harmful to your health.
Zambia is home to many other important wildlife populations which need our protection before it’s too late. The EleFest and the song “Our Zambia Our Wildlife” is a call to Zambia and the rest of the world to support conservation efforts and celebrate the people and organisations who are making an impact. Sending the message out to everyone that we are the generation with whom the responsibility lies and that we will report wildlife crime, reject illegal bushmeat, value our wilderness areas and support the wildlife police officers; men and women risking their lives on a daily basis to protect our wildlife.
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife under the Ministry of Tourism and Arts carries out conservation efforts in Zambia with the support of many organisations including Game Rangers International and WWF Zambia.
EleFest 2016 is supported primarily by WWF Zambia and Game Rangers International as well as many other organisations and people including Mojo, Benson Sound, A Jackson Design, Digiprint Zambia, Ad-dicts, Events Hire, Tanuger Travels, The Art Shop Limited and ProSigns Zambia.To find out more join EleFest movement on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.