Rachell McRobb & Conservation South Luangwa (CSL)
10 years ago, with virtually no experience or support, Rachel McRobb formed Conservation South Luangwa (CSL) with one simple mission: to protect the wildlife of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Thanks to Rachel’s tireless determination, CSL is now the area’s largest non-profit anti-poaching and community conservation organisation, growing from a humble 15 employees in 2003 to over 65 today. As a woman in an overwhelmingly male-dominated sector, and whilst also facing challenging political, environmental and logistical threats, her achievements become even more extraordinary.
The possibility of losing (the wildlife and protected areas) in Zambia is enough for me to fight the daily battles involved in running a wildlife conservation programme in Africa and managing an anti-poaching unit. - Rachel McRobb
Born in Zambia, Rachel quickly fostered a love for the country’s rich wildlife and wild places. As a young woman she began working in the tourism industry before settling in South Luangwa National Park. Employed to manage safari camps, she soon became distraught at the numbers of animals being maimed and killed in snares and co-founded an anti-poaching team.
Over the years, Rachel and her team have worked tirelessly to find a solution to Zambia’s conservation problems. On the ground, their focus is on wildlife rescue missions, tackling the bushmeat trade and the problems and challenges of snare wires. A large amount of time is also spent in the surrounding villages, educating and teaching local communities about the benefits of wildlife and how to coexist with the animals in this beautiful area of the country. In recent years, they have also launched a Detection Dogs Unit and aerial surveillance flights over the most remote areas of the park.
“My inspiration comes from the people doing the endless tough field work, the scouts on the ground fighting the poaching battle, the conservationists educating the children, the scientists working to gather the data to change policy, these are the people who are recognised the least and yet contribute the most.” She pays tribute to her “amazing team … who have stood by me and lay down their lives daily for this job and when I am down about it all, they pick me up and we carry on together.”
ABOUT CONSERVATION SOUTH LUANGWA
Our Mission & Manifesto:
WE EXIST TO HELP PROTECT ZAMBIA’S WILDLIFE.WE BELIEVE THAT NO ONE ORGANIZATION CAN SOLVE THIS CHALLENGE ALONE. WE MUST WORK IN PARTNERSHIP. WE ARE COMMITTED TO CLOSE COLLABORATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL PARKS & WILDLIFE. WE SHARE THE SAME GOAL. TO STOP POACHING. TO ERADICATE WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING. TO PROTECT AND OPTIMIZE ZAMBIA’S WILDLIFE AND NATURAL RESOURCES WE CONCENTRATE ON ANTI-POACHING PATROLS, DE-SNARING AND DAILY AERIAL SURVEILLANCE. WE USE DETECTION DOGS TO CREATE ROAD BLOCKS AND BORDER CHECKS. WE ARE AT THE FRONTLINE OF WILDLIFE RESCUE. WE PROTECT LOCAL FARMERS’ CROPS WITH OUR ANTI-CONFLICT MITIGATION MEASURES. WE BELIEVE IN ACTIVELY ENGAGING LOCAL COMMUNITIES. WE OPERATE AT THE HEART OF THE COMMUNITY. OUR BASE CAMP IS SITUATED IN THE CENTRE OF MFUWE VILLAGE. WE ARE ALMOST 100% ZAMBIAN RUN. WE CONSCIOUSLY RECRUIT AND TRAIN LOCAL STAFF. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO CREATE A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION. ULTIMATELY, THE FUTURE OF ZAMBIA’S WILDLIFE LIES IN THE HANDS OF ZAMBIANS. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERY ZAMBIAN TO PROTECT ITS FUTURE.
A note from the founder - Rachel McRobb
Fifteen years ago I moved to South Luangwa from a national park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and have made it my home ever since. After running safari camps for three years, I soon felt the need to help a handful of likeminded honorary wildlife police officers who were supporting much needed anti-poaching patrols in the area. What started as part time help soon turned to a full time job in 2003 when we created the South Luangwa Conservation Society, (now Conservation South Luangwa) and I was made its Chief Executive Officer.Twelve years later I find myself running an organization that has evolved from a small conservation society with a monthly budget of $150 to what is now a credible conservation organization with an annual budget of $600,000 and a staff compliment of 65 including an Operations Manager, 60 anti-poaching scouts, a wildlife veterinarian and a pilot. My journey with CLS has been rewarding and frustrating at the same time. I’ve witnessed first-hand over and over again the senseless poaching of elephants and the shocking snaring and suffering of hundreds of other animals, luckily many of which we are able to rescue. But most of all, I have been rewarded by the dedication and loyalty of the Zambian men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect what belongs to them. The scouts who tirelessly patrol and react to poaching incidences, the team of staff who work to protect peoples fields from crop raiding elephants, the wildlife rescue unit who spend days tracking down snared animals, the detection dog unit who spend more time looking after and training dogs than they do with their own families and the admin team who keep it all together. All these people have fully committed themselves to our organization and have stood by us during impossible times. Sadly, South Luangwa, like many wildlife rich places in Africa, continues to face widespread poaching of big game and the never ending challenge of snaring. Elephant poaching and the demand for ivory is once again rising and Luangwa has not been spared. We have a long way to go and a battle that needs continuous fighting. With our team and the partnerships and support we have in place, we believe we can make a difference and help protect one of the true remaining wilderness areas left in Africa.
Source: CSL Zambia