In southern Africa, the world's largest nature reserve is being created. It represents an opportunity, particularly for elephants and the local residents, who will benefit from tourism and agricultural projects.


WWF Brasilien
Nature reserves provide long-term benefits for both man and nature. (C) WWF Brazil
(c) WWF Indonesia
The consequences of illegal deforestation are devastating. (c) WWF Indonesia

KAZA, a network of 21 national parks, nature reserves and protected areas in southern Africa, will be something incomparable: the world's largest cross-border nature reserve. Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are planning to develop a region one and a half times as large as Germany through nature conservation and tourism. There is enormous potential, as this area is home to around 250,000 elephants, half of the African population, and many other endangered species. The individual protected areas are to be connected through the construction of wild animal corridors, so that elephants can migrate from the parks in Botswana and Zimbabwe to the protected areas of Angola and Zambia, where there is still enough space for the pachyderms. This is also a way to attract tourism and secure income for the communities.

But every now and then the elephants enter populated areas, trampling fields and farms in search of food. In this conflict, man and beast take each other's lives.


Crop yields can be increased

Climate change also poses a threat to the region. The rain is either insufficient or does not come at all. This results in a worsening nutritional situation. In the project region of the WWF in southwestern Zambia, in the buffer zone of the Sioma Nguezi National Park, around 13,000 families live off what they grow. Only occasionally they generate surpluses that they can sell on the market. The soil is so depleted and exhausted that the farmers have to till new fields every three years: They burn down forests and destroy elephant habitats, driving them closer to settled areas and fields.


The WWF therefore wants to deter farmers from abandoning their fields, and instead teach them how to till their fields in such a way as to maintain the fertility of the soil so that it retains its ability to store water. Proper fertilization and crop rotation may even result in increasing crop yields. Many crops extract vital nitrogen from the soil. But there are also crops, particularly legumes, which return nitrogen to the soil. By alternating crops so that the nitrogen remains in the ground, farmers can use their fields longer and feed their families better.


In order to adapt to the effects of climate change, farmers can introduce crops that are less dependent on rainfall, such as corn, millet, cassava and snake beans. As a result, the risk of a total crop failure in the event of a drought would be reduced.


To preserve Africa's biodiversity, it is necessary to show people how they can live better in harmony with nature.


Many farmers were able to significantly increase their harvest yields. (c) Aurelie Shapiro/WWF

In addition to training in sustainable agriculture, each family receives at least ten kilograms of adapted seed. For the first time this year, some of this was actually made available by the local seed program established by the project. Now small farmers are able to produce their own seed which is more resistant to the effects of climate change, and which has been certified by the Zambian seed authority. This will reduce the high cost of annual seed purchases. The WWF also plans to introduce metal and clay silos in order to reduce losses from the inability to store crops in a dry place which is safe from pests.


Through all these methods, the WWF has been able to help over 2,000 farmers significantly increase their crop yields. More and more farmers are showing an interest in taking part in the program, and the WWF is planning to expand. One thing is clear: to preserve Africa's biodiversity, it is necessary to show people how they can live better in harmony with nature. This is precisely what the WWF is trying to do with its project in Zambia.

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World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)

The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) is one of the largest and most experienced nature conservation organizations in the world and active in more than 100 countries. Around the world, around six million are supporting the WWF.

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