Elephants in Livingstone and Sata’s love of poachers

Dear editor,

Allow space in your media.

Reports of students protesting over elephants in Livingstone are quite sad. The students have the right to protest over elephants.

However, that will not solve their problem. The problem has to do with the authorities’ lack of planning in the setup of entire city of Livingstone which to me seemed very haphazard.

The problem of elephants will not stop because their corridors have been blocked by developments between the river and around the park.

The Mosi oatunyaNational Parkis surrounded by developments which should not have been the case. Tourism development goes together with conservation of wildlife and its habitats. You can not accept one and reject the other.

If the government takes Livingstone as both a tourist and conservation centre it should plan the city accordingly.

If you look at Kasane in Botswana or Victoria falls town in Zimbabwe, this problem is minimal as compared to Livingstone because our neighbours planned their towns in such a way that they left an area for wildlife to move freely away from people while locating developments elsewhere more appropriate.

That helps them to reduce human-wildlife conflict, increase wildlife and in turn tourists which in turn increases tourism based revenue and creates jobs putting more money in their peoples pockets.

In terms of wildlife and tourism, Livingstone can not compare to these two towns while we share the same resources, wildlife and the falls (in the case of zim).

So a deliberate policy is needed to transform Livingstone city into not just a proper tourism capital but also a conservation hub if we are to reduce the loss of human lives to elephants and increase revenue from tourism.

The negative pronouncements by President Sata against ZAWA are not helping either. Surely a leader worth his sort can not accuse a government institution (which can not even defend itself) of caring for animals more than its people.

To make matters worse, the dissolution of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources at the time everyone in the world is concerned about conservation and climate change was wrong.

Equally the misplacement of ZAWA to ministry of mines, NHCC to Chiefs ministry does not make any professional sense what so ever.

Some donors have further threatened to stop providing aid to the natural resources sector inZambiaafter Sata’s negative pronouncements against ZAWA and the disbandment of MTENR which evidently tells us that this government does not care about conservation and the benefits it brings to people.

Somebody should advise the president that his actions are hurting the wildlife sectors and all that depends on it including the over 3,000 employees working in the wildlife based tourism companies.

The conservation fraternity is quite disappointed so far with the PF government in this regard. We give them a yellow card for it.  They should return the MTENR and so more support to ZAWA.

Jackie M
Conservation and Climate Change Expert

BACKGROUND.

On November 9, 2011, more than 300 students from David Livingstone College of Education (DALICE)  stormed the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) offices in protest over the continued intrusion of elephants at the institution.

DALICE Students Union president Haggai Mulamfu said the elephants had been invading the institution and surrounding areas since last term and had destroyed the orchard and wall fence.

the students blocked Nakatindi-Sesheke Road between 20:00 hours and 02:00 hours Wednesday morning and caused a traffic jam as some truck drivers parked their vehicles in panic for fear of being attacked.

Mr Mulamfu said on Sunday, the institution caught fire after an elephant tampered with electricity poles. He said students spent nights outside the hostels for fear of being attacked by the animals.

A group of police officers in riot gear were found guarding the ZAWA regional offices.

A Times reporter who went to the college found the wall fence destroyed and the orchard also in ruins.

Efforts to get a comment from acting ZAWA area warden only identified as Mr Kaoma proved futile as he was reported to be attending a meeting in Kazungula District.

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