Training an Effective Specialised K9 Unit

In March 2020, the expansion of the DNPW/CLZ K9 Unit with two new working dogs – Kalo and Hammer began. Over the last four months Invictus K9 has been training both new dogs as well as a new handler and kennel keeper. The original handlers and remaining dog have also been simultaneously undergoing refresher training in order to upgrade and reinforce their current skills whilst also introducing new techniques to be utilised during operations.

Credit: Hugo Bigara

Detection is one of the core skills developed in the dogs early on with both Kalo and Hammer having successfully imprinted on the scent of firearms, ammunition, ivory, pangolin scale, rhino horn, bushmeat and skins. This is done through exposure to the items in question then using positive reinforcement when the dog successfully indicates on the scent. Throughout training the dogs were also exposed to different environments in order to help strengthen their detection skills and also train them to ignore physical distractions such as loud noises and new people. Once the dogs had learned to detect and indicate on a scent without a visual stimulus baggage searches were also conducted to imitate those held during vehicle check points. Vehicle check points are important in tackling the illegal wildlife trade as they aid in intercepting and disrupting trafficking channels. Both Kalo and Hammer are now able to conduct open area searches, building searches, vehicle check points and baggage searches with ease and great enthusiasm.

Credit: Michael Hensman

In the Lower Zambezi, the dogs experience particularly high temperature levels making them susceptible to heat stress which has detrimental effects to their health and ability to perform. In order to mitigate this issue, part of the training program has involved teaching handler’s the dangers of heat stress for the dogs and how to effectively manage their dog’s temperature. This has been achieved through a number of walks and small-scale operations in high temperature environments. These activities have also worked to help the dogs acclimatise to the weather conditions of the Lower Zambezi and increase their overall fitness levels. At the end of June, the unit made the 14km walk up Mt. Chilapira showcasing the endurance of both the dogs and handlers and their ability to cope with heat and exertion.

Credit: Michael Hensman

It is also imperative to familiarise the new dogs with the different modes of transport they will encounter when on operations such as vehicles, boats and aircrafts. These modes of transport were incorporated into training exercises in order to gradually expose the dogs and give the trainer’s time to monitor their reactions closely. Both Kalo and Hammer quickly overcame any initial apprehension to new modes of transport and also didn’t display any signs of motion sickness which will be incredibly beneficial in the field.

Credit: Michael Hensman

An unusual aspect of training came in the form of two chickens. When conducting vehicle searches and village sweeps the dogs regularly encounter livestock, which often distracts them from the task at hand. Two chickens were procured and kept in the kennel area in order for the dogs to become accustomed to their scent, sounds and movements. During training the three canines initially showed a slight interest in the chickens particularly when they made sudden movements or loud noises, however they quickly learned to focus solely on detection and are now able to conduct tasks without allowing the chickens to distract them. When out on operations this element of training will be incredibly useful in helping streamline vehicle searches and village sweeps as the dogs should ignore all forms of domesticated livestock.

Credit: Michael Hensman

With the advanced training course now complete we look forward to seeing how the unit will operate in the field and what further impact they will have on CLZ’s efforts to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

CLZ extends gratitude to IUCN Save Our Species co-funded by European Union, International Elephant Foundation and The Berry Family Trust, Lion Recovery Fund and Adrian Scripps, for funding the K9 Expansion Training Course.

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save Our Species. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Conservation Lower Zambezi and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.


COVID-19 Fundraising

While COVID-19 has startled the globe and forced thoughts of systemic change within all sectors worldwide, Conservation Lower Zambezi has also had to implement a new norm and find a way to adapt and continue to operate during the ongoing pandemic.

At the CLZ Basecamp, we’ve implemented a number of protocols in order to keep our staff safe, through handwashing stations at all communal areas, enforcing social distancing, consistent use of disinfectants and antibacterials and face masks for all including face shields for those in high risk areas.

Through COVID-19 causing a significant reduction in membership fees from the tourism operators coupled with the inability to conduct income generating activities, CLZ is experiencing a significant financial shortfall on unrestricted funds which are critical to CLZ’s operations.

In an effort to help fill this financial gap and support the low-income communities, we have launched a crowdfunding campaign. With help from Africa Hope Fund, who have enabled us to channel the funds through PayPal, people around the world are able to donate safely and efficiently. At this stage we’ve raised over $25,000 allowing us to continue critical law enforcement operations to protect the wildlife as well as a number of our COVID-19 related community interventions. We’re continuing to push towards our goal of $50,000 in order to secure us for the remainder of 2020.

Please continue to donate and share our link:

In response to our call for support, the Lower Zambezi community, friends and families of CLZ from all around the world have come up with ingenious ideas and ways to continue to support us during this time. We’d like to highlight their efforts and extend a gracious thank you for their work so far:

Oak Foundation 

Through introductions from partner WCP, Oak Foundation has granted CLZ a much-needed unrestricted grant to cover any financial shortfalls over the coming year as a result of COVID-19. Through this, we are able to support DNPW and the community as well as CLZ administration costs.

BioCarbon Partners

BioCarbon Partners have supported CLZ through a grant to help fund efforts to combat COVID-19 within local communities. They’ve also continued to support our community scouts and their work out in the field.

Chiawa Camp 

Chiawa Camp is one of the longest running lodges in the Lower Zambezi valley with an extensive history of supporting CLZ in our conservation work. Through their efforts and outreach, they have secured an incredible amount of donations for CLZ as well as from the Swiss African Foundation who are supporting DNPW and Community Scout wildlife protection patrols.

Kanyemba Lodge 

Riccardo Garbaccio of Kanyemba Lodge, an ongoing and long-time supporter of CLZ has graciously donated a large batch of beautiful chitenge materials for face masks to be delivered to the communities. He has also done a significant amount of running around for CLZ to procure our contactless thermometers and other COVID-19 related items. In addition, he has also provided CLZ with footage and images for our crowdfunding video as well as our social media pages helping our message reach a larger audience and get more awareness and donations.

Alison Street

Alison Street, an extremely talented visual artist and long-time supporter of CLZ has brought the fun to fundraising! In May she launched a campaign: 110 paintings for 110 days. Every day a beautiful piece is posted on her Facebook page for $110 with all proceeds going towards CLZ. So far it is doing amazing and we look forward to the daily pictures!

Emily Lamb

Renowned artist Emily Lamb has launched a campaign wherein each week she auctions off one of her incredible pieces in order to raise money for a conservation charity. CLZ is one of the charities selected so keep an eye out for the auction in the coming weeks.

Tatenda – Wildlife Photobook

Matt Armstrong and Andrew White along with a number of other notable wildlife photographers have pieced together Tatenda, a beautiful photobook that highlights some of the most incredible creatures from all over the African continent. Selling for only $5, all funds raised will be donated to a number of conservation charities including CLZ.

Christie Lindsay

Christie Lindsay is a regular contributor to our annual art exhibit and this year she is using her creative skills to help raise money for CLZ through selling a number of her lovely pieces featuring local wildlife.

Lance Thomas

Lance Thomas, a former overland guide from Encounter Overland has gone above and beyond to help raise funds for CLZ. Through his strong network of guides and former clients in the overlanding industry he’s been able to raise a significant amount in donations for CLZ.

Matthew Lewin

Matty Lewin ran a half marathon earlier this month in order to raise money and awareness for CLZ. With over 21km covered with little training beforehand, this is an incredible feat and we’re thankful for Matty’s support.

Explorers Against Extinction

Explorers Against Extinction are running two competitions to raise funds for conservation organisations. Their art competition Sketch for Survival offers artists the chance to have their works shown in a London gallery. They have also launched Focus for Survival a photography competition showcasing some of the best wildlife photographers from around the globe.

Just Core-S Pilates

Shaina Irwin of Just Core-S Pilateshosted an online Pilates class to #StretchForConservation on the 21st of May. The class was held via Zoom with all proceeds donated to CLZ.

The Zambian Connection

Annually, The Zambian Connection Team have braved the Lower Zambezi River on canoes to raise funds for CLZ. This year, while the expedition may have been put on hold, their fundraising has continued, contributing a significant amount to support CLZ during this difficult time.


A very big thank you to the incredible artists, friends and family members that are raising funds for CLZ in the most creative ways. Your support cannot be emphasised enough and we are grateful to have you backing us. We’d also like to thank our members who have been able to continue supporting us despite the difficult time they are facing.

We would also like to extend a heart-felt thank you to all our current donors for being flexible with their ongoing grants and allowing us to be able to reallocate funds where possible to support current needs due to COVID-19. It is this compassion and understanding that has allowed us to continue our operations here in the Lower Zambezi and protect the incredible wildlife and its people.

Funding Announcement

Photo by Francois d’Elbee

Dog Unit

We are excited to announce that ‘Support to the replenishment and expansion of the Lower Zambezi Detection and Tracking Dog Unit’ is now supported by IUCN – Save Our Species and co-funded by the European Union. This support is helping to establish and equip a fully expanded DNPW/CLZ K9 Unit including the procurement and training of two more dogs and another handler in order to protect the wildlife of the Lower Zambezi.


Supported by IUCN Save Our Species, co-funded by the European Union.

Working Dog Wonders and its Continuity

Dog Unit

Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) is a grassroots NGO based in the Lower Zambezi, working alongside the local wildlife authority – the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), to protect the incredible wildlife of the area.

While the fast-paced nature of wildlife conservation caught up to CLZ in July of 2019 when the organization sadly lost one of its tracking and detection dogs, we were fortunate to receive multiple grants dedicated to the continuity of the CLZ/DNPW K9 Unit, allowing the purchase of two new dogs, the recruitment of a kennel keeper and a third handler, the procurement of new specialized equipment and the expansion of the kennels at the CLZ Basecamp.

On 11th March our two new working dogs will arrive in Lusaka and after months of organization and preparations, we can finally welcome our new chosen stars.

Invictus K9, the organization brought in to do the selection and training course, went to the Netherlands to test and assess multiple dogs and they have made their final decision…Meet Kalo and Amor, two beautiful pure bred Malinois.

Kalo and Amor will be trained as detection dogs to find ivory, rhino horn, bush meat, ammunition, firearms, cat skins and pangolins, which will help us immensely in our fight against poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

Over the last few months we have been working hard at CLZ to extend our kennels and make sure the dogs will be safe and comfortable in their new accommodation. We are still doing final touches now, but everything will be ready for them when they arrive at their new home in the Lower Zambezi.

CLZ can’t express the level of excitement for the two new dogs and the continuation of the specialized and strong forced K9 Unit. This K9 Expansion is funded by IUCN Save Our Species, co-funded by the European Union, Lion Recovery Fund, the International Elephant Foundation and the Berry Family Trust and Adrian Scripps. Thank you to these donors for their rapid response in allowing CLZ to continue the fight against wildlife crime. Without donors such as these, CLZ would not be able to have this impact on the conservation of the incredible Lower Zambezi.


This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save Our Species. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Conservation Lower Zambezi and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.



CLZ Statement on the Proposed Mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park

26th October 2019


Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) is a non-profit organisation that works with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) under the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, to protect the wildlife, habitats and ecosystem of the Lower Zambezi. These assets are of local, national and international importance and need to be protected for future generations.

CLZ understands that mining has a place in Zambia’s economy, however, based on the documents which have been made publicly available, CLZ is deeply concerned about this mine’s potential impact on the nation’s conservation status and the environmental threat it poses to the renewable resources ofthe ecosystem.

The LZNP is an area of international conservation significance, supporting one of the most important populations of African elephant in the region, in addition to many other species. There is substantial connectivity between the LZNP and South Luangwa National Park, it lies opposite a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas in Zimbabwe) and is in the process of being registered as a Transfrontier Conservation Area.

Eco-tourism in the area depends largely on the renewable wildlife and habitat resources and contributes significantly to the local and national economies around the LZNP. With three other parks, tourism in LZNP generates 96% of the income the DNPW raises for wildlife management in the country. Tourism establishments in the park and surrounding Game Management Areas (GMAs) employ more than 1,000 local people, generating a local wage bill of $4 million annually that indirectly supports thousands more people at a local community level. The reputational damage that Zambia and the region would suffer by allowing mining in a national park will definitely impact on tourism in this flagship area.

Local communities depend on the area’s renewable resources in fishing, agriculture, tourism and forestry. All of these resources could be significantly impacted by a mine, particularly aquatic resources. River pollution caused by the mine could threaten the Zambezi river’s 2,000 ton subsistence fishery, which provides food and protein security to 20,000 people along the river’s banks.

The mine also threatens upcoming conservation projects such as the $12.5 million dollar Lower Zambezi Flagship Species Restoration project, which received approval from the Ministry of Tourism and Arts in 2018. The project aims to bring back locally extinct species such as the black rhino and eland, thereby restoring biodiversity and improving ecosystem processes.

We join all our local and international stakeholders in issuing a call on the Government of The Republic of Zambia to reconsider and revoke the permission to mine the Lower Zambezi, thereby jeopardising a renewable, sustainable asset of local, national and international importance.

Lego: 3rd February 2014 – 22nd June 2019

It is with a heavy heart that CLZ report the death of Lego – one of our detection and tracking dogs in the CLZ/DNPW Dog Unit, who died on Saturday 22ndJune 2019 from poisoning. The case is being taken very seriously and samples are being analysed and investigations carried out to determine whether it was intentional or accidental.

Lego was an exceptional working dog and a big part of the CLZ team since 2016 and has contributed to about 108 operations and to the apprehension of 82 poachers and the confiscation of 12 pieces of ivory, 40 firearms and 960kgs of bushmeat.

CLZ would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Liza Oparaocha and her assistants for their tireless efforts giving Lego the best chance of survival that he could have gotten and to Dr. Ian Parsons for his expert opinions and support.

It is a great loss for CLZ, DNPW and our efforts within the Lower Zambezi and for the handlers who have spent three years with Lego, taking care of him and working alongside him.