IFAW amplifying traditional leaders participation in ambitious conservation efforts with an international appeal

The traditional leaders from Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.Picture courtesy of IFAW

* Traditional leaders and communities have a voice in conservation

*  This network strives to implement policies that affect the lives of people living with wildlife

* Their involvement is integral to long-term success of conservation efforts and the development of sustainable solutions

By Duncan Mlanjira

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) brought together traditional leaders to a meeting in Lilongwe which was graced by other influential traditional leaders from the African continent to spearhead co-existence, conservation and wildlife protection efforts.


This follows a first meeting IFAW convened in Ambrose, Kenya on December 8, 2021, which are aimed to create an influential platform for traditional leaders and communities.

In a statement after the meeting, IFAW said: “Traditional leaders and communities have a voice in conservation but this network strives to implement policies that affect the lives of people living with wildlife.

“Their involvement is integral to long-term success of conservation efforts and the development of sustainable solutions.”

During the meeting the traditional leaders “voiced the importance of their involvement in the process of protecting key landscapes that allow animals and people to thrive together”.

Conservation of nature and wildlife

The gathering, that was hosted by Senior Chief Felix Lukwa of Kasungu was attended Chief Siphoso, Alphius Msindazi of Tsholotsho community in Zimbabwe; Chairman Daniel Leturesh of the Olgulului-Ololarashi GR Amboseli, Kenya; Princess Nikiwe Pauline Bam, South Africa; Chieftainess Mwanya Grace Banda, Zambia; Chieftainess Mwasemphangwe, Laecia Phiri, Zambia; Chief Lesoma B. Lesoma, Botswana.

Others were Aaron Gono (District Development Coordinator, Tsholotsho, Zimbabwe); Jimmy Phiri (District Commissioner, Lumezi District, Zambia); Seitisho Philadelphia Ramutla (AYIL, South Africa); Koikai Oloitiptip (Amboseli Ecosystem Trust, Kenya) among others.

In his remarks, Senior Chief Lukwa said: “Traditional leaders are the custodians of nature and wildlife outside of protected areas and are the driving force behind reclamation of wildlife corridors and developing alternative livelihoods.

“At the same time expressing the challenges communities face due to living with wildlife like damaging harvests and killing of livestock.”


Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO — who lead the gathering — is quoted as saying: “Landscapes are increasingly fragmented, disrupting free movement of elephants and other wildlife, leading to more frequent human wildlife conflict.

“Only together, we can find solutions that allow animals and people thrive together and IFAW is committed to lead this process where traditional leaders and communities are at the forefront of our planning as we proceed to advance IFAW’s Room to Roam initiative to protect key landscapes across Eastern and Southern Africa.”

IFAW’s Room to Roam initiative is a new and visionary approach to conservation in Africa.

Backed by 20 years of science and fieldwork, Room to Roam aims to ensure viable, stable, resilient elephant populations long into the future—and with little to no human interference.


Through connectivity and secure habitats, we envision safe passages for elephants and other wildlife to move freely within their home range of East and Southern Africa.

This brings greater biodiversity, a natural resilience to climate change, and a future where animals and communities can coexist and thrive.

The IFAW is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. working with everyday people across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world.

They rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and restore and protect their natural habitats.

“The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated,” says IFAW in its profile. “To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action.

“We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish.”

Currently, IFAW is involved in the translocation 250 elephants from Liwonde to Kasungu national parks which is being undertaken by Malawi’s Department of National Parks &‬ Wildlife and African Parks.
‭ ‬
‭Dubbed ‘Elephants on the Move’, this is the second largest elephant translocation after the successful 520 largest elephant translocations in  history done in 2016 and 2017, which African  Parks undertook of which 366 were moved from Liwonde — to alleviate habitat pressure, reduce ‬human wildlife conflict and repopulate Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

This time around, the exercise is also involving translocation of 485 other animals — 80 buffaloes; 120 impala; 25 sable antelopes; 80 warthogs and 100 waterbucks — which started on June 27‬ to end on July 29.

The translocation is part of a national conservation ‬initiative to maintain healthy habitats in Malawi’s‭ national parks, establish viable elephant populations and ensure the prosperity of local communities living around the parks.