* Once a lion or impala is taken to private ranch, it’s no longer government property and new owner can do whatever they want with it.
Government says capturing wild animals from protected national parks and giving them to private ranches is part of the seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).
Howard Sikwela, who was until last week PS for the ministry of tourism says removing lions, impalas, cheetahs and other species from the Kafue national park in particular and selling them to private ranches is part of the government’ s way of promoting game ranching and creating jobs.
Permanent Secretary Sikwela who has now been moved to the ministry of religion was responding to Kafue National Park Operators Association. The Association wrote to the ministry of Tourism to raise alarm that animals in the Kafue National Park are dwindling in numbers due to this new form of poaching.
The Permanent Secretary however admitted that the number of protected species in the national parks is diminishing.
But concerned operators and environmentalists have told the Watchdog that this appears to be ‘assets stripping after hearing that African Parks is coming to the park to help in the restocking wildlife’.
Once an animal has been taken to a private ranch, it becomes private property, can be slaughtered for food or sold to South Africa or China. This is proper poaching with supervision of government.
‘Most private ranches cannot manage to account for the animals they have meanwhile government say tourism is one sector they want to use to grow the economy,’ said one operator.
‘How can one individual go in the Kafue National Park and get 60 Roan Antelopes? Lions, wild dogs, leopards, cheetahs are rare while South Africa is busy restocking these animals,’ the operator explained. According to other operators, Commercial department at Chilanga and some government officials are involved in this highly sophisticated high-profile poaching’
‘We need restocking of animals and not capturing them for private use. We pay a number of fees to government and tourists come not for accommodation but to see the Same animals they are capturing,’ complained one operator.