Today, 3 May 2009, The Post carries a message from the ZAWA D-G that the ZAMBIA Wildlife Authority’s hunters will next month start killing game animals on that part of customary land designated Game Management Area, to supply butcheries. This decision follows hard on the speech to Parliament on 17 March 2009 by the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources that ‘ZAWA will this year start implementing a number of additional programmes aimed at increasing its revenue base. These programmes include a live sale auctioning of game; participation in the capture of animals for local and international game ranching; venison business by curling of abundant species to supply game meat in butcheries so that members of the public can have access to game meat ….’
ZAWA, a parastatal responsible for our wildlife and national parks, is now clearly in the game business. But is this not in conflict with its mandate under the Wildlife Act of 1998 to enhance ‘the economic and social well-being of local communities in GMAs’ and ‘in partnership with local communities, to share the responsibilities of management in GMAs.’ For the wholesale revenue from this cropping programme will accrue to ZAWA alone. If they were to be concerned about the customary landowners they could just issue harvesting quotas to the villagers and their Community Resource Boards as is allowed under Part 3: (7) 2b of the Wildlife Act of 1998. The issue of whether GMAs - most of them sorely depleted by the illegal bushmeat trade – can stand additional offtakes, is debatable. And the cropping of animals in GMAs will negatively impact on the already beleaguered safari hunting business, let alone on the villagers who live off the land.
The Minister needs to be made aware by her newly appointed ZAWA Board that Zambia is a signatory to the CITES Convention, which at its 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Decision 11.166), established the CITES Bushmeat Working Group which recognizes that ‘illicit trade in bushmeat increases poverty and the food deficit among rural communities which use bushmeat as their main source of animal protein.’; and that ‘The Conference of the Parties to the Convention advised all relevant Parties, amongst a list of important requirements to clarify or establish property rights regarding CITES-listed species harvested, traded and consumed as bushmeat and to involve local communities in the monitoring of harvest, trade and consumption; and identify alternative sources of protein and take other measures to reduce the demand for bushmeat ... '
Of course many of the animals proposed to be harvested will not be CITES – listed, though 20 elephant a year have been issued for hunting by ZAWA for a number of years, despite the protestations of civil society. But the impact on rural areas of unsupervised hunters with a license to kill at will and with a legal butchery outlet where ‘legal’ and illegal meat can be laundered is a sad step backwards both for wildlife conservation and for the customary commons.
Chiefs need to be made aware that a community Society registered with the Registrar of Societies, a wholly community owned institution, may enter into co-management agreements with Government over GMAs, wildlife, fisheries, water and forestry, in conformity with the prescriptions of the Fisheries Act Chapter 200 of the Laws of Zambia of 1974 and the Fisheries (Amended) Act of 2007, The Forestry Act No. 39 of 1973, Forestry Policy of 1998, the Forestry Act No. 7 of 1999, the Local Forests (Control and Management) Regulations, Statutory Instrument No. 47 of 2006, the Lands Act Chapter 184 of the Laws of Zambia of 1995, the Water Act Chapter 198 of the Laws of Zambia of 1948 and the Zambia Wildlife Act No. 12 of 1998.
(Guest Blogger), Zambia
Disclaimer : The views expressed above reflects the author's personal opinions. They do not represent the views or policies of any organisation with which the author may be affiliated.