Green Party President Peter Sinkamba has condemned PF Government’s decision to lift the ban on hunting lions and leopards.
Mr Sinkamba said the decision is outrageous and too ghastly to contemplate.
He observed that the ban was initiated when conservationists warned that wildlife populations, especially the cat family were facing a greater threat than at any time since the 1980s.
‘We all know that the number of lions and other big cat species in Zambia’s major parks is depleted and limited due to poaching and other anthropogenic activities,’ Mr Sinkamba said.
Mr Sinkamba revealed that the total population of lions in the country as at 2013 was estimated to be between 2,500 and 4,700.
‘These are just crude estimates since successive governments after Dr Kaunda’s UNIP, have over the years failed to sustain a continuous wildlife census system,’ he said.
‘Much as we are aware that the PF government is facing serious budget deficit challenges, it is extremely outrageous to resort to unleashing safari hunters on to limited populations of big cat species, regardless the fact that safari hunting is allegedly most profitable.’
Mr Sinkamba has since urged Government to reverse lifting of the ban and instead come up with other revenue generating schemes.
‘This type of approach is definitely awful. Posterity will judge our generation harshly for having been responsible for depletions of rhinos, black lechwes and other species,’ Mr Sinkamba said.
Tourism and Arts Minister Jean Kapata announced the lifting of the ban at a media briefing on Friday adding that hunting of lions will only resume in the 2016/2017 season, while that of leopards can start in the 2015/2016 season.
“I am lifting the ban on the following conditions, the guidelines are drafted into a statutory instrument so that they become part of the wildlife law. Lion hunting should only resume in the 2016/2017 hunting season and not this year.
“Leopard hunting can resume this year 2015/2016 season, but with very cautionary quotas,” Mrs Kapata said.
The hunting of cats was enforced in January 2013.