Government is worried about the continued decline of valuable wildlife species due to poaching and an upsurge in other wildlife related crimes.
Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary (PS) Evans Muhanga said government will therefore not sit idle and watch perpetrators of these crimes plunder natural resources that are meant to benefit a wider population of Zambians.
Mr. Muhanga said poachers and sponsors of related crime will be met with the full force of the law once found.
He was speaking in a speech delivered on his behalf by Mambwe District Commissioner, William Banda, during the pass out parade for community scouts at Nyamaluma training school in Mfuwe.
“The upsurge of wildlife crime and associated crimes threatens the very existence of wildlife and the tourism sector as a whole,” he said.
Mr. Muhanga has since appealed for concerted efforts to ensure that precious wildlife resources and natural heritage are not squandered by individuals for any short term gain.
He noted that wildlife resources should instead be sustainably exploited to realise the fullest socio-economic benefits of all the people of Zambia.
The Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary further noted that protecting the vast wildlife estate is an expensive undertaking that requires adequate funding hence it should not be left to government alone.
“We are therefore witnessing the pass-out of 90 community scouts today which is a testament of the support cooperating partners provide towards conservation. This pass out parade today demonstrates that strong partnerships in conservation play an important role in supporting government as well as community resource boards (CRBs) by providing the necessary requirements to effectively manage wildlife in protected areas,” he explained.
Mr. Muhanga said other measures that need to be undertaken include strengthening and making the Department of Wildlife and National Parks more effective in managing wildlife.
To this effect, Mr. Muhanga disclosed that the Ministry of Tourism is in the process of amending the Zambia Wildlife Act no. 14 of 2015 in order to address the administrative and operational challenges faced by the department.
“In addition, the Ministry is in the process of concluding the approval of the community based natural resource management policy which will enhance the management of wildlife in game management areas,” he added.
Meanwhile, a representative of the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area Project and Peace Parks Foundation, an organization that partnered with government in the training of the scouts, pledged to continue offering support to enhance the capacity of field staff in the department of wildlife and national parks.
Ms. Oluronke Oke, a Project Field Coordinator under the Chama Block, said the project procured equipment and vehicles among other requirements in its support to the department.
“The project procured high-tech equipment for investigations and intelligence gathering, two vehicles, radio communication equipment and uniforms for wildlife officers and community scouts, and two more vehicles are in the process of being procured,” she said.
Ms. Oke further disclosed that in the long term, the project is interested in seeing the scouts that have graduated getting absorbed in the mainstream Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
The 90 community scouts, out of which 11 are female, underwent a 3 month-long training. – ZANIS