Collins Mbesuma Graces the 2024 CSL Fun Run/ZCP Carnivore Cup

By Natasha Kabanda

Conservation is a vital endeavour, especially in regions where human communities live close to protected areas such as national parks and game management areas. Educating the public on the importance of conserving our environment is crucial for achieving harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife. This is particularly relevant in Mfuwe, a town adjacent to South Luangwa National Park, where human-wildlife conflict is a pressing issue due to the proximity of local chiefdoms to the park.

Mfuwe, known for its rich wildlife and stunning landscapes, faces significant challenges from human-wildlife interactions. These interactions often result in conflicts, as wildlife ventures into human settlements, leading to the loss of livestock and crops, and occasionally posing direct threats to human safety. However, the community and various conservation organisations have been tirelessly working towards mitigating these conflicts through innovative awareness programs aimed at fostering human-wildlife coexistence.

Several conservation organisations are actively working in the Luangwa Landscape, employing creative strategies to educate and engage the local communities. Conservation South Luangwa (CSL), Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (CWET), Wildlife Crime Prevention (WCP) Zambia, Project Luangwa, and Elephant Charge are among the key players. These organisations use a variety of methods, including community outreach, educational programs, and collaborative events, to promote conservation and sustainable coexistence with wildlife.

One of the most anticipated events in the Mfuwe is the annual CSL Fun Run and ZCP Carnivore Cup. This event not only provides a platform for sports and community engagement but also serves as a powerful tool for raising awareness about conservation.

Last Saturday, the Mfuwe grounds buzzed with excitement as over 6,000 people gathered for the 2024 CSL Fun Run and ZCP Carnivore Cup. The event was organised by CSL, ZCP, in partnership with CWET, with support from WCP Zambia, Project Luangwa, and Elephant Charge. This year’s theme, “Tetezani zachilengedwe chifukwa cha anthu ndi nyama” translating to “Protecting the Environment for People and Wildlife” this highlighted the importance of conservation and the benefits of living harmoniously with nature.

The day was packed with a variety of activities, including a 10K run, the introduction of a new half-marathon, and the conclusion of the ZCP football tournament. Participants also enjoyed traditional races such as sack races, egg and spoon races, three-legged races, and the eagerly anticipated tug of war. The football star Collins Mbesuma, who was a special guest, delighted the crowd by joining the Tribal Textiles team in the tug-of-war final against the eventual winners, the Zambia Police Service. The event also featured volleyball, netball, and aerobics, making it a true celebration of sports and community spirit.

The competition was fierce, and the results were impressive. In the women’s 10K run under 40, Justina Phiri clinched first place with a time of 43 minutes, followed closely by Evelyn Phiri and Beatrice Chirwa. In the men’s 10K run under 40, Benjamin Zulu took the top spot with a remarkable time of 35 minutes, with Richard Banda and Lottie Njobvu coming in second and third, respectively. The women’s half-marathon under 40 saw Natia Banda emerging victorious, while George Phiri won the men’s half-marathon under 40. The Silver Celtic emerged as the 2024 ZCP Carnivore Cup champions, they played against Young Mfuwe Resource Center.

The event also featured live entertainment, including theatre performances, music, and traditional dances, culminating in a closing speech by the District Commissioner of Mambwe district, Mr William Banda, who was the guest of honour. Other notable VIPs included Mr Noah Mbewe, who was representing Malambo member of parliament, Hon. Peter Phiri Simon and Induna Edward Chipepo from Mkhanya chiefdom. Collins Mbesuma, the special guest, also made a significant impact with his participation and inspiring speech.

In his speech, Collins Mbesuma emphasised the importance of learning from our interactions with wildlife, just as one learns from playing football. “The game of football is the best teacher, and you learn by playing it. I have learnt a lot over the years from every game I played and just like the game of football, our interactions with wildlife provide us with an opportunity to learn how to live better with them,” he shared, drawing parallels between sports and conservation efforts.

The 2024 CSL Fun Run and ZCP Carnivore Cup was another success, bringing together the community to celebrate sports, conservation, and the rich natural heritage of Mfuwe. The event not only provided a platform for physical activities but also served as an important reminder of the need to protect our environment for the benefit of both people and wildlife. With continued efforts and support from conservation organizations, local communities, and inspiring figures like Collins Mbesuma, the dream of harmonious coexistence with wildlife is becoming a reality.


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