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Zambian President: our wildlife is fair game

This is a discussion on Zambian President: our wildlife is fair game within the News forums, part of the AfricaHunting.com category; Zambian President: our wildlife is fair game The previous administration valued animals more than hungry humans, says Zambia's President Michael ...

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    Default Zambian President: our wildlife is fair game

    Zambian President: our wildlife is fair game

    The previous administration valued animals more than hungry humans, says Zambia's President Michael Sata. In response, he's gone to the other extreme, disbanding the country's wildlife authority and releasing hundreds of prisoners convicted of wildlife-related crimes. Zambians will be fed as long as they like their meat poached. By SIMON ALLISON.

    The South Luangwa National Park, Zambia's biggest and most beautiful, tries to maintain a delicate balance between the needs of the people and the needs of the astonishing variety of animals and fragile eco-systems within its porous boundaries. Poaching is forbidden, of course, and is strictly monitored. But it happens. It's not unheard of for guests at one of the luxury lodges which line the Luangwa River to be woken up by gunfire, unsure of whether the bullets came from a poacher's gun or were directed at a poacher by a park ranger. Big-time poachers are after elephant ivory or a leopard pelt; hungry poachers, just looking for a meal, might go for an antelope or warthog.

    But the animals are even more likely to encroach on human territory. Elephants are a particular problem, roaming far and wide to find the 600kg of food each adult needs a day. Villagers' crops make an enticing afternoon snack, and in a few short hours a small herd of elephant can destroy a subsistence farmer's livelihood. Sympathy in the villages for the massively destructive creatures is in short supply, and it's easy to understand why.

    The dividing lines between the people and the animals are monitored by the Zambian Wildlife Authority which staffs the national parks and provides the armed scouts and rangers who enforce the law. Although plagued with the bureaucracy of most government bodies, Zawa has a sound reputation for getting the right things done right. Its job is a difficult one at the best of times, but has just been made exponentially harder by Zambia's new President Michael Sata.

    Michael Sata would style himself as the "people's president", and as far as the animals are concerned he's already living up to that title. The first warning signs emerged during his speech to open parliament. "In order for us to preserve our wildlife for tourism, we must also put measures in place to control the problem of human-animal conflict in game management areas which has led to increased levels of hunger and poverty among our people," he said. These measures soon became apparent, although they're unlikely to help preserve the wildlife.

    Firstly, Sata dissolved the board of Zawa, leaving Zambia's wildlife protectors without leadership. His reasoning: "There are certain institutions which have more respect for animals than human beings. I have today dissolved the Zawa board and I have to look at it, to reconstitute it." He added that the reconstituted board would be mandated to serve the interests of Zambians rather than animals.

    Then, in an even more dramatic move, he pardoned more than 600 prisoners, most of whom had been jailed for wildlife-related offences. "When I dissolved the Zambia Wildlife Authority board last week, I said this institution and the [previous] MMD government seemed to have respected animals more than human beings. As a result, a lot of our poor people were imprisoned over minor wildlife-related offences," Sata said. These people are now free, and their release is an unmistakeable message to any Zambians thinking of hunting an impala for the pot: go for it.

    Already, some reports have emerged that Zawa officials are being threatened and intimidated while on the job. In one incident, two Zawa officers were killed on duty in the west Zambezi game management area. According to the Times of Zambia, deputy minister of mines and natural resources Richard Musukwa, was at pains to assure parliament that "the unfortunate incident was not in any way related to a statement made by President Michael Sata over Zawa and his recent pardon of some prisoners over poaching-related offences". It's hard to avoid making that connection, however, when Zawa's authority and existential rationale has been so thoroughly undermined by the president.

    "God gave us animals for us to admire, and not animals to turn against us," Sata also said when he explained why he was dissolving Zawa's board. But in tacitly condoning poaching, he might just be making sure there's a lot less animals for Zambians to admire. DM

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    AfricaHunting.com is online now Jerome Philippe, Founder of AfricaHunting.com
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    Default Clarification from Hon. Minister of Tourism re: Poaching

    Clarification from Hon. Minister of Tourism re: Poaching

    See attached pdf document...
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    Jerome Philippe, Founder of AfricaHunting.com
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    Jerome

    Political power in the working...poaching is ok as long as you are not caught.
    James Grage - New Mexico
    Hold a steady Eye & Rifle...
    "Very few of the so-called liberals are open-minded...they shout you down and won't let you speak if you disagree with them." John Wayne

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    I am former Law Enforcement, and as much as I hate to admit it, I have let poachers go in the past. Before the B.S. starts flying I will explain. If a person was truly poor, not the welfare poor, but, a guy who is doing the best with what he has, and his neighbor called up saying he had killed a deer or turkey or such, out of season, I made the judgment call in two incidents that I recall, not to write the citation or send in a warrant application. If I read the above information correctly it sounds like the same "type" of situation. I could see this getting way out of hand though without some kind of enforcement or regulations, just don't have an answer as to how..

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    35bore i understand where you are coming from, but commercial meat poaching from small scale to large scale is a very big problem in zambia(and most other african countries with any wildlife). last week on our reserve some of our scouts found poachers who shot at them, then chased them and beat them up. when you have spent a large sum of money building and stocking a reserve you are very pissed when poachers kill your animals. when you are losing animals as valuable as sable etc it becomes an expensive way of people getting meat. the problem with releasing these people is the message it sends to the people living in the villages, who dont read the follow up statements in the newspapers, they will think its ok to poach, and the zawa scouts who actually do their job must wonder what the point is in trying to catch the poachers. there is also the problem of what happens if you get into a shootout with poachers on your property, and shoot 0ne or more.on the few occasions it happened on different reserves/ranches it caused problems in the past, but with the new governments people before animals line, you could end up in big trouble trying to protect your property and yourself. as with most operations do we give money and assistance to the local community for which we expect a little cooperation and info on any poaching etc, but for most of them it is a take take attitude so they arent happy when the assistance(money) is stopped, and always promise a lot when it is reinstated.........

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    35bore, just good judgement on your part.

    If you are truly attempting to survive under our laws you can take what animals are necessary to live.
    Our last environment minister wanted to grant anyone on welfare the opportunity to hunt to feed themselves.
    Amazingly, he got knocked for it. (Not from the hunters)
    I would not have objected.

    In a country where the wildlife will have no chance with so many in poverty, they better get more creative with their solutions than free for all hunting.

    It would be interesting to know the "minor offences" for which these 600 were released. If poaching is not minor and will be enforced, then what did these guys do?
    James is right politics at its best.
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    BRICKBURN,

    I guess on "minor" offences I would not have a problem, but we really don't know the severity of the offences committed by the 600 people that were released. Like spike.t says, and agree with, that it sends the wrong message to the villagers. I don't know the answer, but with so many people starving or at least hungry, you would think that this government would help the PH's and outfitters in a sort of "share the harvest" program like we have here in the states.

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    Simply put, this will lead to wholesale slaughter. Wait and watch the butchery. Zambia's tourist hunting industry will soon be toast.

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    I agree with wanderer: if you keep giving breaks to all the hungry people, there soon will be no animals. Then you will have a poor hunting which will not keep the economy going & then the country will become even poorer & the people won't have nothing to eat as the game numbers start dwindling away.

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    a very sad story
    bush meat wil become the norm,and then an informal industry and then an illegal empire the same as drugs, and then.......

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    Quote Originally Posted by 35bore View Post
    I am former Law Enforcement, and as much as I hate to admit it, I have let poachers go in the past. Before the B.S. starts flying I will explain. If a person was truly poor, not the welfare poor, but, a guy who is doing the best with what he has, and his neighbor called up saying he had killed a deer or turkey or such, out of season, I made the judgment call in two incidents that I recall, not to write the citation or send in a warrant application. If I read the above information correctly it sounds like the same "type" of situation. I could see this getting way out of hand though without some kind of enforcement or regulations, just don't have an answer as to how..
    The problem is that EVERYONE in Zambia is poor...basically this means a free for all on the wildlife.

    This is sad and sickening

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    Simply put, this will lead to wholesale slaughter. Wait and watch the butchery. Zambia's tourist hunting industry will soon be toast.
    This

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