Clearing landmines for conservation

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HALO has begun surveying and clearing minefields around the settlement of Tempué in Angola so that the National Geographic Society’s Okavango Wilderness Project can undertake conservation research and conservation-linked community development.

The clearance project will see HALO work on three minefields that surround the town in Moxico Province - one right next to the Tempué airstrip. After a month of survey work, HALO’s teams will now begin landmine clearance. The demining project will involve 30 HALO staff living in a demining camp in the remote Angolan bush for up to three months.

Tempué is surrounded on three sides by suspected minefields

"Clearing landmines is a crucial first step towards protecting the wildlife and habitat of the Angolan Okavango. With the mines gone the focus will be on helping the local community to develop in safe, sustainable ways."

Steve Boyes, Founder Okavango Wilderness Project

HALO has been working with National Geographic since 2015 on a number of expeditions into one of Africa's last great wilderness areas.

Tempué sits amid the tributary system that feeds the headwaters of the Angolan Okavango. The source lakes around the town are a vital part of the greater Cubango/ Okavango river basin - a watershed which also forms part of the wider Kavango Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (KAZA) that spans five countries in the southern Africa region.

The Angolan Okavango has a unique place in modern history for Angola and the region. Fierce fighting took place on its territory through the period to independence and the civil war which followed, with intense battles being fought during which mine-laying was extensive. The mines need to be removed before efforts can be put in place to protect the region's wildlife, rivers and landscape.

National Geographic’s Okavango Wilderness Project (OWP), which has conducted a number of expeditions to the source lakes, will be able to conduct scientific research and work with local communities on conservation-based development once the landmines are removed.

In addition to studying the local river wildlife and habitat the OWP seeks to work with local people to help them protect their surroundings and improve their own livelihoods while doing so.

HALO's demining project will supporting both the pioneering work of National Geographic and contribute to new initiatives by the Government of Angola to enhance and develop conservation infrastructure in the area of the KAZA region. This will involve substantial mine clearance in two of Angola’s National Parks, Mavinga and Luengue-Luiana, both of which are located within the territory of the Angolan Okavango, and the KAZA.