Minister of Tourism and Arts Charles Banda has warned wildlife criminals of serious penalties as Government is in the process of reviewing the National Parks and Wildlife Act No. 14 of 2015.
And Zambia has committed to fight against illegal wildlife trade as the scourge deprives states and communities of their natural capital and cultural heritage, with serious economic and social consequences as well as a security threat to nations.
Meanwhile Hon. Banda has said the Zambian Government with support from cooperating partners will embark on an ambitious plan to develop the tourism circuit in the Sioma Ngwezi National Park as part of the regional tourism hub by improving law enforcement, wildlife re-stocking and empowering communities living in the wildlife corridors.
Tourism and Arts Minister Charles Banda made the commitment at the just ended London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade and said that in implementing the commitments, the Zambian Government has identified key focal areas to enhance protection of its wildlife resources and pledged to ensure that it collaborates with other countries in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.
“Government is in the process of reviewing the National Parks and Wildlife Act No. 14 of 2015 to strengthen the mandate and capacity of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to effectively manage and protect wildlife from threats including habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade and will increase penalties for serious wildlife crimes and provide for wildlife offences that will not be eligible for bail,” he said.
Hon. Banda said through the Department of National Parks, government has partnered with the Wildlife Crime Prevention, a Zambian NGO, to support investigations in wildlife crimes across the country.
He said Government has developed working mechanisms with a number of strategic partnerships to provide an enabling environment for Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s) in the management of wildlife protected areas in the country.
The Minister said government will recruit additional Wildlife Police Officers to address critical manpower shortages in all protected areas, adding that with the support of partners the Officers will be well equipped with necessary skills and equipment required to deal with the current threat posed by poachers and criminal syndicates behind illegal trafficking in wildlife products.
Additionally, the Minister said in order to combat trafficking of timber especially the surge in Mukula tree (Pterocarpus chrysothrix), the Government has ensured that there is improved collaboration between the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Forestry to curb illegal timber harvesting in wildlife protected areas.
He also said Government is committed to support existing Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA’s) such as the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA and the Malawi-Zambia TFCA’s.
“Zambia remains committed to establishing additional Trans -frontier Conservation Areas (TFCA’s) to its existing portfolio of TFCA’s. The Ministry of Tourism and Arts will engage respective governments in expediting the signing of MOU’s for the establishment of outstanding TFCA which are critical for free movement of elephants and other wildlife species,” he said.
And the Zambia Government has called upon the International community, donor governments and institutions to enhance their support to the fight against illegal wildlife trade by extending financial support and funding pragmatic actions aimed at not only curtailing the illegal trade but also ensuring that the wildlife populations that exist in protected areas is well protected.
The Government of Zambia therefore readily avails itself for full involvement in these strategic interventions working with states agencies, regional economic communities and partners towards effective conservation and protection of fauna and flora in Zambia.
Issued by: Abigail Chaponda (Mrs.) First Secretary | Press and Public Relations Zambia High Commission in the United Kingdom. LONDON, Saturday, 13th October 2018