Highlights from the Ground 2022

Date: January 6, 2023

The best stories of 2022 from our legacy landscapes

Community conservation in Odzala yields fruit

Odzala-Kokoua National Park harbors close to 7,600 Western lowland gorillas, the largest population in a national park in Africa, and almost over 7,300 forest elephants, which is roughly 7% of the total remaining population.

Gorilla baby
© Andrew Beck / African Parks

The fruitful 12-year public-private partnership between the Ministry of Forest Economy, Sustainable Development and Environment and conservation NGO African Parks, which manages this park, has led to effective protection of this national and global asset. 12,000 people live in the park’s periphery and are benefiting from the services the park provides. 

2021 saw marked advancements in the community engagement actions through the establishment of a cocoa program in the north of the park, engaging local producers in an improved and sustainable value chain. The research department also saw promising advancements through the procurement of a light aircraft, which supports both improved monitoring of the region as well as the first systematic count of the species both within the park as well as on its periphery.

The results showed highly encouraging wildlife numbers within the park’s boundary, including about 1,150 buffaloes. Still, human pressures outside of the park remain significant. The survey helped to direct management measures for 2022, during which several community projects were launched, including sustainable fishing on the Mambili river and an innovative human-wildlife conflict mitigation tool in the south of the park.

Odzala-Kokoua legacy landscape lies in the heart of the Congo basin, the second largest rainforest after the Amazon, and one of the world’s most biodiverse areas and most important carbon sinks.

Vicuña shearing bounces back in Madidi

Between September and November 2021, the vicuña herding, capturing and shearing season took place in the Apolobamba National Integrated Management Natural Area (ANMIN), part of the Madidi landscape. 

© Robert Wallace / WCS

In the 1960s, the vicuña was on the brink of extinction worldwide due to poaching and habitat fragmentation caused by the expansion of cattle ranches, industry, urban centers, and mining. However, thanks to the establishment of protected areas and CITES legislation to curb illegal trafficking, the population has increased once more, allowing the establishment of a conservation program and legal shearing of the species.

Madidi legacy landscape not only secures regionally and globally relevant ecosystem services but is home to more than 30 indigenous communities and overlaps with four legally recognized indigenous lands of critical cultural and ecological importance. 

North Luangwa harnesses the power of a gender perspective


In North Luangwa National Park, incorporation of gender is key to the success of the conservation program. Gilbert Mwale, Community Outreach Manager, detailed the program’s efforts:

“North Luangwa Conservation Program has gone beyond the simple recognition of the inequalities between women and men in the North Luangwa Ecosystem Game Management Areas. Using the gender perspective, the program has and will continue working towards building more equitable relations between women and men within the communities, Village Action Groups, Community Resource Board, and other community-based groups such as Community Conservation Banks. 

With the implementation of this project, North Luangwa Conservation Program will set a benchmark and best practice for gender work by contributing practical evidence to influence gender-responsive policies and practices that will address inherent biases and deep-seated gender norms and stereotypes.”

North Luangwa legacy landscape gains its outstanding global value from the Luangwa River, which has shaped a rich and biodiverse landscape over millennia, and its pristine wilderness, which gives the park its unique character.

Women lead the CoCoBa in Gonarezhou

A Community Conservation Bank (CoCoBa) operates in Gonarezhou. As group lending facilities are difficult to come by in the area, this small grant-funded bank fills a gap. It allows locals who want to start a business to take out a loan and pay it back in instalments. The process is very transparent, with all bookkeeping and saving done openly in front of members.

CoCoBe bank gathering

Elice Dheimani, Community Data Coordinator at Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, outlines the impact of the initiative:

“Communities adjacent to the park are organized in five community sectors, called Mpfhuka areas in the local Shagaan (Tsonga) language. In each area, Gonarezhou Conservation Trust supports community-initiated livelihood projects. One such project that significantly impacts household livelihood and conservation is the Community Conservation Bank.

Five groups led by female members, each representing their Mpfhuka area, were supported with project start-up loans by GCT. As a community worker, it has been inspiring to witness the empowerment of the female community members on how income-generating projects can improve their livelihoods and reduce the community’s over-reliance on natural resources for sustenance.”

Gonarezhou legacy landscape provides habitats for a wide range of animal species but is most famous for its elephants. Home to about 11,000 individuals, Gonarezhou truly deserves its vernacular name as the “Place of Elephants”.

Tiger-proofing livelihoods in Gunung Leuser

Gunung Leuser National Park and its surrounding forests are a stronghold for the Sumatran tiger. Collaboratively managing human-tiger conflicts in forest-edge farming communities is an important approach to resolving this livelihood and conservation issue. 


The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) are partnering to support vulnerable communities in preventing livestock attacks by constructing tiger-proof enclosures, livestock pens strengthened with barbwire.

The benefits of this approach were described by A. Mukhlis, who rears livestock in the Langkat District of the Leuser Landscape: “The tiger-proof enclosure makes me feel safer, protects my livestock and makes them easier to manage”.

LLF will support WCS and MoEF to replicate this approach in villages across the landscape.

Gunung Leuser legacy landscape is located on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Here, it lies at the heart of the Leuser ecosystem, which spans an area of more than 26,000 km2 and is one of Southeast Asia’s largest intact rainforest ecosystems.

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