The protection of the flora and fauna of the Lower Zambezi Valley plays an important role in our daily operations. At Baines’ River Camp, owners, staff and guests alike make a positive contribution towards the conservation of this wildlife wilderness area in one way or another. The successful conservation efforts reflect the joint and active support from the local communities and all safari operators in this area.
Some 25 km west of Baines' River Camp, you will find the rural villages of the Chiawa Chiefdom, home to approximately 17,000 residents. The majority of these community members are subsistence farmers, living on the poverty line with little or no access to electricity, clean running water, water-borne sewage and health-care. In areas such as this, where employment opportunities are scarce, the temptation is great to augment a monthly income with the proceeds of poaching for the growing illegal ivory trade or for bush-meat. When living on the bread-line, wild animals are generally not seen as a heritage to be protected and the word “conservation” is little valued. This, coupled with a diminishing wildlife habitat due to rapid deforestation for the production of charcoal, presents a highly complex problem for conservationists.
In order to protect the wilderness heritage of the Lower Zambezi Valley and simultaneously increase the social and economic welfare of its residents, all commercial operators and the community continue to work together for the betterment of the area as a whole.
More than 90% of the team at Baines' River Camp originate from the greater Chiawa community, each of them proud to join us in our efforts to protect the Lower Zambezi National Park and the adjacent Game Management Areas for the benefit of future generations.
In the unfenced Zambezi Valley, human-wildlife conflict has posed a severe threat to the local farmers, with elephants, hippo and buffalo raiding their crops on a frequent basis. In order to mitigate this loss, Baines' River Camp has worked closely together with Chieftainess Chiyaba, and put together a cooperative of 35 farmers and a team of international experts to create the first safe and sustainable local farming enterprise in the area. Ten hectares of uncultivated land in one of the villages was allocated for the benefit of this pilot project. The members of the cooperative worked the land whilst Baines' River Camp engaged the services of the professional team, provided the materials for a solar powered electrified fence and the equipment to clear and prepare the land for the first crop. This project was initially assisted by generous external donors. Since then, Baines’ River Camp further agreed to supply the seed and fertilizer for the first three crops in order to ensure that the cooperative was ultimately viable. The Chimsambo-Mugurameno Cooperative Farm was a great success with a bumper crop of maize in its very first season. This has led to more farms with the same cooperative concept in the Chiawa Chiefdom.
Baines' River Camp is a platinum member of Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ). Over the years it has become clear that separate projects by individual safari operators are not nearly as effective as the combined effort of all. Led by a small, dedicated and professional team, CLZ has developed into a highly successful conservation initiative. Working closely together with Zambia's Department of National Parks and Wildlife (previously ZAWA), CLZ is instrumental in the protection of the Lower Zambezi Valley as a whole, assisted by the monthly support of all safari operators in the area and generous funding from external donors. The organisation has three core functions:
- Wildlife protection
- Environmental Education
- Community Development
For more information about CLZ, visit conservationlowerzambezi.org
The contributions of a number of operators, both in the Lower Zambezi National Park and the Chiawa Game Management Area, have secured sufficient Carbon Credits/Offsets to support the reforestation in the adjoining Rufunsa Game Management Area, where deforestation was pandemic. Subsequently, the Lower Zambezi National Park has been declared “The First Carbon-Neutral National Park in the World”. A significant achievement for the Lower Zambezi and an incentive for Zambia as a whole, this is a clear statement of the combined safari operator commitment to the protection of our environment for future generations.
When you book a stay at Baines’ River Camp, you have a direct positive impact on the wellbeing of the Chiawa Community, the flora & fauna of the greater Lower Zambezi Valley and the habitat in the Rufunsa Game Management Area, measured by the community and conservation levy which is added to your invoice on a nightly basis.
Our second visit to Baines has only made us realise what a magical place it is and that we will have to return again! Thank you to everyone for making our few days here so memorable. Great fishing, park lunch, bush dinner etcetera.Mike, Angela and James Bader, September 2015, Middleburg, South Africa