Tondwa Game Management Area is part of a vast ecosystem that stretches from Nsumbu National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika westwards to Mweru Wantipa and Lusenga Plains National Parks. Long overlooked, Tondwa is the key to the connectivity and long-term integrity of this landscape.
Tondwa falls under the jurisdiction of the Nsama Chiefdom and Nsama Community Resources Board (Nsama CRB), with Game Management Areas in Zambia managed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW). Chief Nsama is the paramount chief of the region.
Nsama District in north-eastern Zambia, is home to the Tabwa people who migrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the eighteenth century. Lungu and Bemba tribes are also present. Traditional authorities such as Senior Chief Nsama are still in place.
Tondwa comprises a series of large wetlands and lakes surrounded by miombo woodland. It is bounded by a steeply rising escarpment in the south-east.
Tondwa was once famed for its large herds and stunning landscapes. However, pressure from long-term poaching and a lack of investment from prior hunting operators, despite long leases, led to under-resourced and under-capacitated management and thus, poor or non-existent law enforcement and a failure to engage local communities. Wildlife populations have therefore steadily declined, although residual populations of most species remain.
Deforestation and uncontrolled burning are major threats to the area, exacerbated by the involvement of local community leadership, along with snaring for bushmeat.
The Tondwa area is considered an ideal location for the Conserve model, which aims to promote landscape-scale conservation while uplifting local communities. The neighboring Kaputa Game Management Area is currently vacant and more distressed, providing an opportunity for Conserve to expand its mandate.