TOURISM and Arts Minister, Sylvia Masebo has given the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) a two-week ultimatum to release two white rhinos it hasconfined for over a year.
Ms Masebo gave the directive when she toured Lusaka National Park in Kafue District yesterday.
The minister learnt that the two white rhinos had been in confinement longer than normal, therefore prompting her to give the ultimatum.
"These are the issues animal activists are complaining about. You know, our intentions are good, we want to open up this park, but we are taking too long and keeping the animals in an environment that is not really conducive," she said.
Ms Masebo wondered why ZAWA acquired the animals if it was not ready to properly look after them.
"So we have agreed that within the next two weeks we can get these animals out. And this should happen," she said.
Wildlife veterinarian David Squarre attributed the delay to releasing the animals to non arrival of drugs ordered from South Africa.
The white rhinos needed to be injected together with implants which were already available.
The implants were ordered over a fortnight ago.
Dr Squarre said the drugs were only manufactured upon being ordered and said it was normal to keep animals confined in an area for them to get acclimatised.
And Ms Masebo expressed happiness at the manner Swanvest of South Africa was keeping the Sables it bought from ZAWA four years ago.
ZAWA director-general Edwin Matokwani said following the success of its proposal, the authority was waiting for funding of US$3 million.
The funding will come from the Interim Environmental Fund managed by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency.
It will be used for infrastructure development at Lusaka National Park.
Lusaka National Park is the 20th and smallest park in Zambia which was established last year, hosting 19 animal species on approximately 5,000 hectares of land.