Posted by: wildsidezambia | January 21, 2013

The beginning of the golden age for Zambian conservation?

Zambia’s new Minister of Tourism recently banned all hunting in Zambia and at the same time showed her mettle by booting out corrupt officials out of ZAWA, the Zambia Wildlife Authority.

Following the total ban on hunting in Zambia, South Africa’s  daily, well read on-line ‘Tourism Update’, aimed at anyone and everyone in the travel industry, recently ran the article below:

“From hunting bans to the dismissal of senior wildlife authority executives, the new Zambian Tourism and Arts Minister, Sylvia Masebo has taken bold and controversial action in a bid to root out corruption and lay down a solid foundation for the growth of wildlife-based tourism in Zambia. 

In the past, safari hunting in Zambia occurred in Zambia’s Game Management Areas (GMAs) – communal lands that encircle the National Parks. Theoretically, these GMAs should have served as buffer zones by maintaining the hunting, settlement and agriculture in these lands at sustainable levels, while at the same time rewarding the community for engaging in conservation activity through tripartite agreements between the communities, Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and the safari hunting companies. 

 But mismanagement has resulted in an underfunded ZAWA and failure to set sustainable hunting quotas in the GMAs. It is also believed that the communities have not yet received their full share of the monies from ZAWA.

As a consequence, in many GMAs there has been over hunting and the communities were under remunerated. This, in turn, has led to poaching and encroaching in the GMAs and on to the boundaries of the national parks over the years.  

 The leases for most of the GMAs expired at the end of 2012 and, during the tender process for new leases, these anomalies became apparent to government and, in particular, the dire conservation status of lion in the country. 

Lion Encounters are actively involved in conserving and reintroducing lion populations into Zambian game parks

 In December, Masebo sacked five senior officials from ZAWA, including the Director General, Edwin Matokwani. Then in January, during a stakeholders’ meeting, Masebo announced a ban on the hunting of lion and leopard with immediate effect, as well as the suspension of all hunting activities outside of fenced game farms in 19 GMAs for 2013. This bold move caused huge waves in conservation circles in Southern Africa.

 According to a press statement issued by Masebo, during this time government has committed to funding conservation activity in the GMAs while conducting a wildlife census on Zambia’s entire game area estate to establish current stock levels, as well as a review of the structures responsible for wildlife management. 

Many members of the Zambian tourism industry believe Masebo’s actions are a step in the right in the direction and could eventually result in tourism growth for the country.Stakeholders have also expressed hopes that opportunities in photographic tourism, which can earn many multiples more revenue and create more jobs than hunting can, will be explored”.


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