"It is important to respect the people"
Sylvester Kampamba is the Conservation Education Officer and as a life-long local resident of North Luangwa. He's running environmental education lessons in our project.
When you were growing up did you ever see yourself becoming involved in conservation?
Actually, no. I was a local resident doing ‘chitemene system,’ a very cheap method of farming. I was dreaming about becoming a teacher at one of the local schools. Well, things changed when I joined the North Luangwa Conservation Programme as a casual worker. It was exciting and scary when I first came into the Park and saw elephants and other big mammals. I started to appreciate the importance of wildlife and also wondered if my children will have a chance to see the animals as well. I started to tell other people about the importance of protecting wild animals before I even became Conservation Education Officer in 2004.
What does your work involve?
We inform the local communities about the work of the North Luangwa Conservation Programme so that they are all aware of what is taking place inside the Park. We deliver conservation education lessons in schools in 21 communities. We’re distributing activity books together with the teacher’s manual at the beginning of the year. We’re also conducting community conservation sensitisation tours and Park visits for the local children. My favourite part of my job is teaching and talking about conservation and interacting with children.
Tell me about the communities you visit.
It is quite important to respect the people in the community as they are the key people to help combat poaching. Hard work through capacity building is worthwhile and very important. Over 3,500 adults saw last year’s theatre roadshow that we took around the communities. The responses were positive and very encouraging. Lots of people came and learnt about conservation. Some were saying that they will never go poaching again as they have seen through the play how tough it becomes for someone caught poaching.
I see that most people in surrounding communities are appreciating our work. There is massive support. Sylvester Kampamba
What do you see as the future for North Luangwa?
I see that most people in surrounding communities are appreciating our work. There is massive support. They see the potential for jobs and some of the children who have been part of our conservation education programme have finished their education and are actually working in conservation now. I hope that North Luangwa will become a destination for more tourists, which would create more job opportunities for the people living here.
What are your hopes for your own children?
My hope and trust is to make sure that all my children complete their education and further strengthen their capability and build strong professional skills. I’d like to see one of my own children become a conservationist right here. They always ask me interesting questions about North Luangwa and rhinos in particular.