The exclusive photos below taken by Zambia Watchdog reveal horrific scenes of poaching in the Kafue National Park.
Some accessible areas of the Kafue National park are littered with the deflated corpses of elephants, often with their young calves dead beside them, as well as those of other animals.
A few days ago, the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) suspended the issuance of hunting licences to Mushingashi Conservancy because the game ranch has allegedly failed to control poaching and support law enforcement operations due to financial challenges. ZAWA public relations officer Sakabilo Kalembwe says the authority has opened a wildlife police camp on Mushingashi Conservancy to contain poaching on the private game ranch, which borders the northern part of Kafue National Park.
“It is disappointing that Mushingashi Conservancy, which is located approximately 60 kilometres from our Mumbwa office and has radio communication, email, phone connectivity and vehicles has deliberately decided not to report to ZAWA on the poaching incidences on their game ranch when they are required by law to do so. Mushingashi Conservancy boasts to have 70 scouts equipped with radio communication and equipment needed to fight poaching,” he said.
Mr Kalembwe also said ZAWA is left wondering why an area which has such facilities claims to have lost 30 elephants without reporting the cases of poaching on time.
He said it is unfortunate that Mushingashi Conservancy opted to circulate pictures of carcasses on social media in a quest to appeal for funds for law enforcement on the game ranch without first reporting to ZAWA.
Mr Kalembwe cautioned Mushingashi Conservancy management to conduct its operations in a proper manner without bringing the name of the authority into odium, disrepute and ridicule and not to blame ZAWA for its shortcomings and failure to adequately provide security for the wildlife found on the property.
Mr Kalembwe said ZAWA will in the interest of good game management not issue any resident or non-resident hunting licences to the conservancy until it shows capacity to manage its own affairs
But stakeholders accuse ZAWA of trying to blame game ranches for its only failures.
‘It is extremely disappointing and disappointing for Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), to suspend the issuance of hunting licenses to Mushingashi Conservancy on accounts that the reserve has failed to control poaching and support law enforcement operations and due to lies ZAWA is sending that the reserve has financial challenges,’ said a concerned person.
Can you imagine ZAWA has only 20% game scouts to guard that more than a 3000 hectares vicinity of the Kafue National Park. Mushingashi a relatively, small conservancy has more than 70% of game scouts.
‘I live in Kasempa, and we see officers from ZAWA enticing our poor communities with biscuits and butter to do anti-blood poaching. They are fighting Mushinganshi because they have been badly exposed for their incompetence to run ZAWA because some officers are direct involved in this evil trend,’ another source said
One source explained that poachers are killing elephants each and every hour and we are scared that our future generations may not have the privilege to see these animals.
And when you are in Mushingashi reserve, you can hear gun shoots each and every hour coming from the Kafue national park; elephants are been killed and that’s a fact.
And last week, Special assistant to the President for projects monitoring and implementation Lucky Mulusa expressed concerned about the escalating poaching of elephants in the Kafue National Park.
Speaking when he toured Mushingashi Game Reserve in North-Western Province on Thursday, Mr Mulusa said: “There is a request by the Mushingashi Conservative that the government must intervene in the poaching of elephants and this is reasonable and understandable.”
Mr Mulusa said illegal wildlife trade undermines the rule of law and degrades ecosystems.
He also said poaching is a major obstacle to the efforts of rural communities striving to sustainably manage their natural resources.
“The Patriotic Front government is committed to diversifying the economy in terms of growing the tourism and the agriculture sectors because we feel these are the two sectors immediately available for the growth of the economy with easy strategies but when we come here, we find that poachers are killing animals and this must stop,”
“When you look at the situation here in Kafue National Park, it is easy to say that there is a complete system failure in terms of game management; the system is very weak, inadequate and it works in reverse,” Mr Mulusa said
And Mushingashi Conservative director Darrel Watt said 35 elephants were killed in the space of six months.