Community Scouts line up for Italian Special Forces Training

Community Scouts are the frontline of conservation management and are critical to the protection of forest and wildlife supported by the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) and Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) in Zambia.

BCP Community Scouts are recruited from project participant Chiefdoms and are trained and deployed under the guidance of Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW). Community Scout patrol teams reduce wildlife poaching and habitat loss through boundary presence and wildlife crime suspect apprehension.

Reducing forest loss within each of the REDD+ Chiefdoms is key to protecting Zambia’s significant biodiversity as well as securing much needed community income through the sale of forest carbon offsets.

Generous funding from the Lion Recovery Fund and USAID enabled employment of 22 new BCP-supported Community Scouts in December, 2018. Selection and training of the scouts was led by the DNPW Training Wing and training conducted at the newly refurbished Mukamba Gate Complex.

The new Community Scouts demonstrate their skills.

In addition to DNPW patrol training, the 22 new community scouts joined 18 serving community scouts to receive training from the Arma dei Carabinieri, including the elite Gruppo di Intervento Speciale (GIS), one of Italy’s leading Special Forces Units.

The Carabinieri provided advanced tactical training, as well as training related to countering illegal logging and illegal wildlife crime. DNPW oversaw the training at the Mukamba Gate Complex. The combination of two training approaches has built valuable capacity, motivation and confidence in the community scouts, who daily face potentially dangerous law enforcement encounters in the bush.

The Carabinieri training arose from Italian Government-initiated cooperation with the Government of Zambia to build environmental management capacity. The training contribution is valued at $60,000 – a cost out of reach for many organizations – and BCP is honoured to have been selected to pilot the training cooperation between the two Governments.

This was an exciting example of multi-sectoral partnership to build community capacity and create skilled jobs.  BCP partnered with DNPW, the Shikabeta and Mpanshya Community Resources Boards (CRBs), tourism operator Makasa Safaris, and the Italian Embassy in Zambia.

Italian Ambassador to Zambia, His Excellency Mr Filippo Scammacca, was enthusiastic about the involvement of Carabinieri in Zambia’s critical wildlife protection efforts: “Care for our most vulnerable wildlife species and environments is a global responsibility. It is a source of great pride for the Carabinieri, as well as the Italian people, to contribute to the protection of Zambia’s unique forests and wildlife. That this is possible through training and empowering local people only adds further to the commitment of my office to continue supporting these activities through collaboration with BCP as well as DNPW and Forestry Department leaders in the Zambian Government” he said.

The scouts graduated on 17thDecember 2018 at a colourful passing out ceremony attended by the Minister of Tourism and Arts, Honorable Charles Banda, and the US Ambassador to Zambia, His Excellency Daniel Foote.

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