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CSL Fun Run and ZCP Carnivore Cup   2024

South Luangwa National Park and the surrounding Game Management Areas are increasingly threatened by human encroachment for settlement and agriculture. This population expansion has led to a higher dependence on bushmeat for protein and commercial hunting as a source of income. Due to their affordability and efficiency, the widespread use of snares poses a significant threat to wildlife populations. To help combat this, Conservation South Luangwa (CSL) introduced the CSL Fun Run as part of their wider community conservation outreach work.

Since its inception in 2009, CSL has celebrated this annual event in the Mambwe district. The day serves as an opportunity to unite the community and conservation organisations in celebrating and valuing the importance of conservation efforts in South Luangwa. In 2016, the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP) partnered with CSL to host the Fun Run and integrated their Carnivore Cup. The Carnivore Cup football tournament is a pioneering initiative by ZCP, an organisation focused on the conservation of large carnivore species and their ecosystems. The Carnivore Cup has become an integral part of the CSL Fun Run. It uses the universal appeal of football to raise awareness about critical conservation messages. 

Since its inception, the Carnivore Cup has featured prominent figures in the football realm to grace the event. The inaugural event was graced by Kalusha Bwalya, a Zambian football legend, whose presence set the tone for future events. This tradition continues, with each year bringing new faces to inspire and advocate for wildlife conservation. This year’s event promises an unforgettable experience, featuring the celebrated Zambian footballer Collins Mbesuma, also known as Ntofontofo, who currently plays for South African club Pretoria Callies will be a special guest. 

One of the key sponsors of this year’s event is Wildlife Crime Prevention (WCP), an organisation dedicated to addressing wildlife and environmental crime and its impact on communities. Supporting conservation organisations is a fundamental ethic of WCP, which regularly participates in partner-led projects in the Eastern region. The CSL Fun Run is one such event that has become a prominent fixture in Mfuwe. The Carnivore Cup, an integral part of the CSL Fun Run, uses football to raise awareness about crucial conservation messages. Tying in with Mbesuma’s involvement, he’ll not only enhance the ability to communicate the importance of protecting wildlife species and their ecosystems but will also inspire young footballers with his presence. 

This year’s event is particularly special as it includes valued partners working in the Luangwa landscape, such as Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (CWET) and Project Luangwa. Additionally, this highly anticipated event represents a growing movement to integrate sports and conservation. 

As these events continue to gain popularity, they set a precedent for how communities can come together to support wildlife conservation while enjoying the activities they love. By fostering a deeper connection between people and nature, these initiatives ensure a brighter future for Zambia’s wildlife and its people.

Make sure your running gear is ready for this exciting event to take place at the Mfuwe Airport ground on 15 June 2024. In addition to the 10 km and 21 km runs, the day will feature other fun-filled activities, including executive relays and a tug of war. We look forward to seeing you there for a day of fun, community spirit, and conservation awareness.

This article was published in collaboration with Wildlife Crime Prevention.


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