President Edgar Lungu has officially opened the Lusaka National Park to the public.
President Lungu also unveiled and laid wreaths at the memorial monument at the facility in honour to wildlife Police Officer (WPOs, Village Scouts, as well as men and women who have lost their lives during the course of duty.
Mr. Lungu went on conducted a game viewing of white rhinos and blue beasts at Zambia’s 21st and smallest protected wildlife sanctuary in the country.
The Lusaka national park is the smallest protected area in Zambia and newest park with some exotic wildlife species from South Africa was established and gazetted in May, 2011.
Other species include white rhinos, giraffes, elands, hartebeests, zebras, sables, kudus, blue wildebeests, waterbucks, black lechwes, impalas, pukus, bushbucks, reedbucks, warthogs, one pangolin, and axis dears.
President Lungu has since called for the development of conservation areas and game ranches in the country.
Mr. Lungu said the ranches would significantly reduce pressure on national wildlife estates and consequently boost the tourism sector.
He disclosed that government is in the process of decentralizing tourism to involve the local people.
He challenged Tourism and Arts Minister Jean Kapata and her Local Government and Housing counter John Phiri to come up with plans for establishing game parks in other cities and towns in Zambia in an effort to grow the tourism sector.
He further called for the establishment of a central park for the city of Lusaka to be a hub of recreation and culture noting that other major cities around the world have such facilities that amplify their quality of life.
“Imagine how Lusaka would be improved by way of increased employment opportunities, general physical fitness of the city residents and reduced air pollution if there was a central park,” President Lungu said.
He directed Lusaka Mayor and Councillors in the Lusaka city council to rehabilitate abandoned or dis-used community parks in neighbourhoods around the city so that they become centres of recreation and culture.
And speaking earlier, Tourism and Arts Minister Jean stated that there are 20 national parks in the country and one sanctuary protected area.
Ms. Kapata said the Lusaka national park sitting on a 6, 715 hectares has got 1,000 wildlife species besides white rhinos, impala and blue beats.
She disclosed that her ministry was transforming Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) into a department under her ministry.
ZAWA Acting Director General Kampamba Kombe, who is also the Authority’s Legal Counsel, disclosed that the ZAWA has spent over K5 million to put up various infrastructures in readiness for the opening of the park.
Though the park is fenced off in a 33 kilometre park perimeter to keep animals within the park, Mr Kombe warned people against encroaching and farming in the park as they risked being prosecuted.
He said the park would have activities like camping, walking safaris and bicycle riding, among others becomes an economic spinner that would contribute to the gross domestic product through tourism.
Former president Rupiah Banda, Zambia Tourism Board and ministry officials, Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II, PF Secretary General Davies Chama, some cabinet ministers, diplomats accredited to Zambia were among the people who witnessed the commissioning ceremony of the facility, located about 30 kilometres south-east of Lusaka central business district.