Zambia: Campaign to Save Lake Tanganyika Starts

THERE is indeed need for concerted efforts to preserve Lake Tanganyika's fish species, living organisms which thrive in the waters as well as animals living around the Lake.

For a long time now, it has been observed that fish species have been depleted in the lake as many individuals and fishing companies have been fishing indiscriminately putting the species at risk of being wiped out in the Lake Tanganyika, which has the potential to feed people far and around it.

This development has not affected only the ordinary people, but the Government as well which has been earning foreign exchange from fishing related business and now being affected as fish species continue getting depleted.

Recently, private companies which are involved in the hospitality business and fishing industries teamed up in an effort to preserve Lake Tanganyika in partnership with Government.

These Companies were not only concerned with the hospitality business being negatively affected but they were also concerned as tourism and other related activities were under threat.

Stake holders have expressed concern that unregulated human activities would culminate into different aspects which would negatively affect social-economic activities and living standards of the people living around Lake Tanganyika.

Recently, Northern Province Deputy Permanent Secretary Georgina Kasapatu toured Ndole, Kasaba and Nsumbu Bays to familiarise herself with operations as well as inspect the facilities being used for various initiatives aimed at preserving biodiversity around Lake Tanganyika.

During the tour, Ms Kasapatu made a number of observations about how Lake Tanganyika, which she said be saved from all forms of destructive human activities.

She said Lake Tanganyika was a renowned natural resource which sustains the lives of hundreds of people engaged fishing and other social-economic activities.

She noted that there were hundreds of people who rely on fish resources especially kapenta and buka-buka fish trade.

She pointed out that Lake Tanganyika is one of the most beautiful places in Africa which has great potential for Tourism that has in the near future the capacity of exceeding that of Livingstone and Luangwa valley only if stocks can be preserved.

Ms Kasapatu explained that even the landscape surpasses any other place in Zambia.

She further stated that Nsumbu National Park is the best tourist attraction and there is already an existing lake, within the area with the most beautiful beaches on the entire Lake Tanganyika and undoubtedly the most productive fish breeding area.

She added that Lake Tanganyika also has amazing water- falls along the Lufubu River and a Game Management Area (GMA) in the name of Tondwa which is worldly renowned for its wild species of large antelope such as Eland, Sable and Statunga.

She also described Nsumbu National Park as a jewel of Zambia.

The DPS expressed fear that Lake Tanganyika is in danger of over exploitation from over fishing, bad land practices and illegal poaching of wildlife.

She said once the fish and animals are depleted, then there will be little hope for job creation and development through tourism that has the potential of reducing the high poverty levels.

Ms Kasapatu emphasised the need for the preservation of Lake Tanganyika so that the nation can continue to enjoy harvesting fish and viewing wildlife in a sustainable manner for generations to come.

The conservation Lake Tanganyika is an organisation that wishes to help the local community ensure that this resource is strongly sustained for both the present and future generations to come.

The issue at hand cannot be accomplished single handedly by Government alone unless various players are involved through the provision of human, financial and material resources.

There should be a lot of sensitisation among the local communities in how fish can be restocked in terms of fishing methods and of course measures should also be put in place to protect wildlife from being hunted down indiscriminately for the sake of tourists and future nationals to benefit.

"When the two resources (fish and wildlife) are wiped out there will be nothing to show to our children.," Ms Kasapatu said.

She said failure to preserve the lake and it is living organisms would also translate into lose of income in terms of foreign exchange on the part of Government.

She said the action to preserve nature around the lake should also involve traditional leaders who are closer to the local community if a positive approach to the problem of over fishing was to work.

The conservation of Lake Tanganyika is non-profit organisation that is seeking to help bridge the gap between the immediate needs of the local community at the same time assisting Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) to ensure that there is sufficient intervention in the protection of wildlife for sustainable development realisation.

The campaign to save Lake Tanganyika is aimed at making the local community to become aware of the benefits of the conserving efforts and ensure that they also become part of those preserving biodiversity around the water body.

The community around the Lake Tanganyika should have a sense of ownership which could help to held address the challenges being faced by those tasked with preserving biodiversity.

Ms Kasapatu called on local community to join hands with Government and other organisations to work together and make conservation of Lake Tanganyika a success story through holding of meetings with stake-holders and charting the way forward.

Ms Kasapatu revealed that the campaign to conserve of Lake Tanganyika has attracted organisations from near and far and she praised them for their assistance.

She also revealed that companies such as Capital Fisheries, Auto World Zambia, Voyages Zambia, Chongwe Safaris and Chris Liebenberg have come on board to provide their support to the initiative.

She added that the others are Mpende Fisheries, Surf Life Saving Australia, Nkamba Bay and Ndole Bay Lodges which have put up their resources together to accomplish the conservation of Lake Tanganyika.

At the same function Northern Province Hotel and Catering Association (HCAZ) Chairperson Jairus Simunyola praised swimming competitors and described them as not only strengthening their skills but also creating awareness of preserving natural resources.

Mr Simunyola encouraged Government to put preservation of natural resource on top priorities of Government programmes as rivers, Lakes, Forestry and Wild life contribute extensively to national economy and development.

He expressed optimism that that his organisation would work in partnership with Government to protect natural resources as it's a progressive policy that needs to be supported by all stakeholders.

Mr Simunyola said many countries have thrived on tourism industries and natural resources due to the preservation of Natural resources which is key to national development.

He called on traditional Leaders and local communities to work closely with Government to stop the indiscriminate cutting down of trees and discourage bad traditional methods of catching fish.

Mr Simunyola also called on Ministry of Education to include in their school syllabus topics on the preservation and conservation of natural resources as a way of promoting awareness amongst future generation.

The Campaign to Conservation Lake Tanganyika was a big issue in Zambia because needs the support of all stakeholders, local and international environmental organisations if it was to yield the expected results.

" The Government and various organisations have to put in their best to achieve the intended results which have a broad based approach," Mr Simunyola said.

Village Action Groups (VAGs) have been formed to help in the sanitation programme which comprise Local people and their leaders from villages on the importance of Conservation of Lake Tanganyika.

The action has also involved traditional leaders who have also joined in to send the preservation messages across to their subjects so that local people realize the importance of taking care of Lake Tanganyika as it has been in their lives from time in immemorial.

Senior Chief Nsama's representative Evans Chansa appealed to Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) to consider improving man power to protect wildlife which has been highly depleted due to high poaching levels along Lake Tanganyika.

Mr Chansa pointed out that the 15 game rangers in place are not enough to man all protected Game Management Areas in Northern Province that also including Muchinga Province.

He expressed happiness that the Village Area Groups which are working well in conjunction with Game Management staff and other Lake Tanganyika Conservation stakeholders which has made the sensitisation campaign to work.

And Nsumbu Village area Chairperson Lighton Kamuletele called on Government to construct good road for easy accessibility to various areas by visitors and Tourists.

Mr Kamululetele also appealed for improved television and radio transmission by Zambia National Broadcasting Services (ZNBC) as they also wish to be view the national and current affairs.

He commended Muvi Television station which has been helping people along Lake Tanganyika in updating them with airing local programmes but the facility is only available to those with their own satellite television which very rare.

Mr Kamuletele said Muvi is a private organisation which is helping so greatly in their community but they needed ZNBC, the national broadcaster.

In summary the Campaign to Save Lake Tanganyika has been set in motion but it's success depends on the local community which lives around the area because they are the beneficiaries of the well being of Lake Tanganyika.

Those spearheading the campaign pointed out that community education and participation was of vital importance if sustainable ownership of the initiative was to be realised.

In fact Conservation of Lake Tanganyika initiative leaders said the solution to their problem was now in sight because stakeholders have recognised the risk posed by the over-exploitation of natural resource of the around the lake and members of the Campaign to Save Lake Tnaganyika have vowed not to rest until they realise their their objective.

 - ZANIS

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