Zambia Calls Time-Out on Hunting Industry in Disarray
The Zambian game hunting industry appears to be in disarray following the suspension of licences and the apparent firing of top officials within the country’s Wildlife Authority (ZAWA).
In December, Zambia’s Minister of Tourism and Arts, Sylvia T Masebo, announced the suspension of certain hunting licenses as they had “been abused to the extent they threatened animal populations”. Last week, national media reported the sacking of ZAWA managers – including its most senior official - due to the suspected irregularities in the issuing of tender concessions.
“While there is a lack of clarity on the details, it is apparent the hunting industry in Zambia is in a shambles,” said Jason Bell, Director Southern Africa for IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org).
“This is not a new state of affairs for Zambia or any other country that uses hunting as a revenue source to run its conservation efforts. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that by its very nature encourages sleazy behaviour and dishonesty.
“Governments encourage hunting in the hope that it will benefit local communities and support conservation, but more often than not it is only the very few that share in the spoils. Zambia should be dismayed but not surprised to discover this truth,” said Bell.
“For the rest, as the Hon Masebo, said before Parliament last month: ‘hunting does not promote conservation nor does it make any social or economic sense’. It is ordinary Zambians and its wildlife that now have to bear the brunt of hunting policies gone bad.”
In a statement before Parliament last month, Minister Masebo announced the partial suspension of “resident hunting” licences for the 2012 hunting season saying the markedly lower cost of these licenses (an average of 300 per cent lower than safari/trophy hunting licences) “encouraged corruption in the entire business of resident hunting”.
Following this, according to Zambian media, five wildlife officials, including the Director-General of ZAWA, were sacked for alleged corrupt practices regarding the issuing of hunting concessions.
Bell said IFAW encouraged Zambia to follow the lead of neighbouring Botswana, which recently announced a country-wide ban on sport hunting from Jan 1st, 2014. A statement by President Ian Khama, said: “The shooting of wild game for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna.”
According to reports, Botswana expects the ban will boost tourist revenue, which already accounts for 12 per cent of the country’s GDP.