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Zambia's 'Kenyan-style' cancellation of legal international hunting tender denounced as communities hope uninterrupted international hunting will return

by Emmanuel Koro
18 Dec 2023 at 20:51hrs | Views
Dr Rodgers Lubilo, Chairman of Zambia Community Resource Boards
Zambia's 'Kenyan-style' moment-of-madness-cancellation of legal international hunting tender was recently denounced ruled as illegal by the country's high court, creating local hunting communities' hope that uninterrupted international hunting will return in 2024.

Largely influenced by the animal rights extremist fundraising NGOs who lie that international hunting destroys wildlife populations, some African countries have been fooled and green-washed to ban or restrict international hunting at the expense of wildlife and habitat conservation, including socio-economic development.

Yet, international hunting is supported by the Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora as a scientific wildlife management measure that crops out ageing bulls that are unimportant to wildlife breeding, without decreasing wildlife populations.

Almost nowhere in pro-international hunting and wildlife-rich Southern Africa has a senior government official ever single-handedly cancelled a legal and approved hunting tender as happened in Zambia recently, compromising the wildlife, habitat conservation and life-changing socio-economic benefits supported by international hunting revenue.

Without the powers and mandate to cancel legally agreed international hunting tenders, the permanent secretary of  Zambia Ministry of Tourism and Arts, Evans Muhanga recently cancelled legally approved hunts in the Southern African country's prime 19 hunting blocks.

Negatively impacted by this decision, the Zambia Community Resources Board Association that represents rural hunting communities, teamed up with negatively affected four hunting companies (Mopane Safaris Limited, Kwalata Safaris Limited, MVU Safaris Limited and Ntengu Safaris Limited); calling for the reversal of permanent secretary Muhanga's illegal decision to cancel the legally approved hunts in Zambia's 19 prime hunting blocks.

These companies together with the Zambia Community Resources Board Association said that permanent secretary Muhanga's decision was null and void and breached sections 7,48,54 and 57 of the Zambia Department of National Parks and  Wildlife Licencing Committee Act No.14 of 2015 which gives the power to cancel hunting concession agreements to the Wildlife Management Licencing committee.

A Lusaka High Court judge, Sharon Newa, ruled that permanent secretary Muhanga's 4 May 2022 decision, was illegal because only the procuring entity, which is the Zambia Department of National Parks and  Wildlife Licencing Committee has the jurisdiction to cancel hunting concession agreements.

Meanwhile, permanent secretary Muhanga declined to answer media questions      e-mailed to him asking whether he acted under the influence of animal rights extremist fundraising NGOs to cancel approved hunts in the country's 19 prime international hunting areas.

Appointed to be accountable to and serve the interests of the Zambian public, one of the questions that permanent secretary Muhanga also didn't answer includes this one, "Do you regret your actions to illegally cancel the international hunts as a moment-of-madness?"

Some Zambian citizens used social media platforms such as Facebook to protest against permanent secretary Muhanga's illegal cancellation of hunts. One of the protestors said that the cancellation of legally approved international hunts in Zambia's 19 prime hunting blocks resulted in job losses in hunting communities for trackers, cooks and drivers etc. It also meant the loss of business for safari hunting companies that operate in Zambia's 19  prime hunting blocks.

Responding to media questions probing the cancellation of the international hunts in Zambia's 19 prime hunting blocks, the Chairman of Zambia Community Resource Boards who is also a direct beneficiary of international hunting because he attended a South Luangwa school that was renovated using international hunting revenue, Dr Rodgers Lubilo said, "For two years we have had no safari hunting in prime areas in Zambia not because of international hunting ban but our own local politicians.

"The hunting communities took the Government to court and we won the case.

"There was international hunting in some hunting blocks but not too much.

"So we hope next year(2024) full scale hunting can resume."

Meanwhile, the Zambia Community Resources Board Association, President George Tembo said  that the hunting industry did not perform well in Zambia during the 2023 hunting season because "it did not include all the game management areas(GMAs)/ hunting communities."

 "This has limited the potential of the hunting industry for the past two years," he said.

 President Tembo said that the Zambia GMAs are wildlife-rich.

"In some of the GMAs where the hunting concession agreements are still running, the communities have benefited socio-economically from  the following projects supported by international hunting revenue: the construction of schools, health posts, boreholes, solar pumps, modern technology-driven agricultural projects, police posts houses and offices etc.," said President Tembo.

He said that other  community projects supported by international  hunting include poultry, savings groups and livestock farming.

"Our prayer is to have all the Zambian hunting or GMAs operational as soon as possible before the opening of the 2024 international hunting," said President Tembo.

With Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema's administration having recently publicly declared that it intends to adopt the 'Kenyan-style' anti-international hunting and anti-ivory trade model to boost its tourism industry, it remains to be seen if international hunting will continue in Zambia.

Zambia's illegal cancellation of legally approved international hunting coincided with the election into power of Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema who succeeded pro-international hunting and ivory trade, President Edgar Lungu who worked supportively around such issues together with the presidents of Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

A November 2022 article published by Zambia Today cited sources within the Zambian Government saying, "Kenya's tourism industry grew exponentially when that country banned hunting.

"The authorities(Zambian Government) will announce a ban on game hunting in preference for the Kenyan model of photographic tourism which the same sources contend rake in more revenue."

In November 2023 the Kenya Association of Travel Agents and the Travel Agents Association of Zambia(TAAZ) signed a strategic partnership deal to boost growth in their travel industries.

"It signifies a concerted effort to unlock the full potential of our tourism sector,"  said Hamida Malik, Chairperson of TAAZ, exclusively focusing on photographic tourism and signalling Zambia's departure from a wildlife economy growth path that includes the lucrative and life-changing international hunting industry.

Meanwhile, wildlife experts have observed a catastrophic decline in wildlife population in Kenya, arising from its 1977 international hunting ban. In stark contrast they noted an ongoing increase in wildlife populations of SADC countries, including Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe that have not banned international hunting.


A professor of  the US-based University of Florida Centre For African Studies, Brian Child said that since the 1977 hunting ban, Kenya's wildlife has declined by 60% and "is being replaced by cattle." This means that the land that was previously set aside for wildlife conservation is being taken up for cattle production.
 
"In Southern Africa wildlife has increased by 600%," said  professor Child, illustrating that where international wildlife hunting is taking place and rural communities are benefiting, it creates incentives for them to conserve wildlife.

About the writer: Emmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international-award-winning environmental journalist who writes independently on environmental and developmental issues in Africa.


Source - Emmanuel Koro