Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Stephen Mwansa has said the North Luangwa was arguably the best protected and most secure wildlife area in Zambia.
Speaking at the launch of The Frankfurt Zoological Society’s North Luangwa Ecosystem Project AT Mano Camp grounds in the North Luangwa National Park on Thursday, Mr Mwansa said that the Government of Zambia and Frankfurt Zoological Society(FZS) have had a valued partnership which has lasted over 30 years and been the longest serving partner in wildlife conservation in Zambia.
“The Zambian Government greatly appreciates the efforts the project has made towards the management of the park and surrounding Game Management Areas(GMA’s) through improved law enforcement capacity, infrastructural development and community conservation programmes which have resulted in an increasing population of various species including elephant of which the park has the highest density and of course most notable the successful re-establishing the black rhino population in the north Luangwa National Park,” he said.
Mr Mwansa said the Government was committed to long term partnerships. “I am delighted that the FZS has embarked on improving conservation education and community based natural resource management programmes in and around the park,”he said.
Mr Mwansa said the Government was aware of the continued and growing threat poaching poses to high value species such as elephant and rhino which were present in the park.
He said the Government remains committed towards addressing the challenges faced such as inadequate manpower, poor infrastructure and lack of equipment which were all important in combating poaching.
“Habitat destruction and human population growth in the surrounding Game Management Areas(GMAs) continue to seriously threaten and undermine our collective efforts in conserving wildlife for the benefit of communities who live side by side with animals and often bear the brunt of living with wild animals,” he said.
Mr Mwansa said without sound community conservation programmes in place, communities begin to question why they must tolerate wildlife especially in the absence of benefits.
He said he was happy that the department of national parks and wildlife recently held a stakeholder consultative meeting with all community resources boards in the country, chiefs as patrons of community resource boards and non-governmental organisations with the view of establishing a national Community Resources Board (CRB) association in order to improve dialogue.
He said that the project aims to strengthen ecosystem management and community resilience through strengthening community participation in ecosystem conservation by stimulating private investment in enterprise opportunities that will diversify and increase revenue streams for livelihoods and conservation.
“In addition, wildlife law enforcement and monitoring will be strengthened by providing training, equipment, and operational support. land use, general management and business plans will be developed to establish a basis for effective ecosystem management and for enterprise equitable partnerships with the private sector, focusing on tourism developments,” Mr Mwansa said.
This is contained in a statement issued by Ministry of Tourism and Arts Public Relations Officer Sakabilo Kalembwe.