2 January 2013

Zambia: Govt Ready to Lose K400 Million to Conserve Wildlife

TOURISM and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo has said Government is ready to lose K400 million from the one year ban of wildlife hunting business for the sake of conserving nature and bringing sanity to the commercial hunting sector.

Ms Masebo said the amount of money Government was earning annually was far little when compared to the amount of destruction being caused by corruption and indiscriminate killings of wild life.

This was being done by a few individuals who were reaping from the wild hunting sector.

The Minister was speaking during a live Zambia National Broadcasting Services (ZNBC) phone in programme, 'Open Line' on Monday night.

She said over the past few decades, Government and people living in the areas around national parks were not benefiting from all forms of commercial hunting which was dominated by foreigners and Zambians of foreign origins.

"There is a lot of cheating and corruption surrounding the wildlife hunting business which the Government has just banned. It is a lucrative sector which has seen a few individuals reap from supper profits from wildlife products.

"The Government is getting little in terms of revenue and the areas where this business is being conducted has for many years remained under-developed without any form of empowerment to the local people" Ms Masebo said.

She said that during the period of the ban, Government would embark on a consultative process which unlike in the past would take into consideration input of the chiefs and the local people.

The Government, she said, would leave it to stakeholders to decide whether to permanently ban commercial wildlife hunting.

Stakeholders would decide if the Government should instead promote photographic safari business, which was a key source of revenue for countries like Kenya, Botswana and South Africa.

A representative of resident hunters Davies Mwila pleaded with the Government to consider striking a balance between conducting hunting business and photographic safari.

"Hunting is a sport and a business which provides livelihood for hundreds of people from different sectors which should not be banned but allowed to co-exist with photographic safari business," Captain Mwila said.

A local business executive and conservationist Ishmael Kankhara said the population of unique exotic wild life species in national parks was depleting at an alarming rate.

"A few individuals are profiteering from the indiscriminate slaughtering of buffaloes and lions and the only solution we have before us is to ban all forms of hunting business in national parks," he said.

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