More than 500 wild animals from South Luangwa and Kafue national parks have been trafficked to South Africa from the time Ronald Chitotela was appointed minister of tourism.
The animals are darted, captured then airlifted to South Africa where they are auctioned for restocking in private reserves in that country and beyond.
Most of the wildlife being airlifted are impalas, water bucks, kudus and antelopes.
At the centre of these criminal activities are local businessmen running safari companies in Eastern province.
Among the biggest traffickers of Zambia’s endangered species to South Africa is Andy Hogg, the owner of BushCamp, Yousuf Zumla, Hanif Mitah and many others who will be mentioned here.
These poachers have been trafficking wildlife from Zambia for a long time even under Charles Banda as tourism minister but the poaching and trafficking reached endemic levels when Chitotela was appointed minister of tourism.
Under minister Charles Banda, only smaller animals like antelopes were being airlifted to South Africa but Chitotela was a game changer. He allowed the international poachers to dart, capture and traffic buffaloes, lions and other big animals.
‘That is why last week you saw those trucks at Mfuwe. It’s difficult to fly buffalos and lions so they brought in trucks to load them and drive to South Africa, hence the outcry from Mfuwe residents,’ a security source told the Watchdog.
According to the source, Munster of tourism Chitotela is not working alone. The traffickers, Andy Hogg, Mitah, Zumla and others have direct access to State House and share profits with State House officials.
Security sources disclosed that the trucks that were chased by residents from Mfuwe did not leave the country but will be loaded with animals from a different location.
Sources complaint that Zambia is losing millions of US dollars as the animals are being captured from Zambia for almost nothing but are auctioned for huge amounts in South Africa and the money goes to a few thieves in Zambia .