AS FQM reaffirms its commitment to promoting tourism and resources
A full range of wildlife could one day be restored to the West Lunga Management Area (WLMA) under a project that aims to revive the delicate ecosystem in the remote part of North Western Province.
As part of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) work to enable a complete and functioning ecosystem to support the full range of African mammal species that it has traditionally been home to, a new wildlife camp Mukambi was handed over to the department this week by the Trident Foundation, supported by First Quantum Minerals (FQM).
Speaking when he officially handed over the camp to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) through the mining firm’s subsidiary Kalumbila Minerals Limited (KML), FQM Country Manager General Kingsley Chinkuli reaffirmed FQM’s commitment to taking care of Zambia’s ecosystems by preserving forests and wildlife.
“As a partner in development, we as FQM want to assure you the Director General (DNPW) and the representative of their Royal Highnesses that we are committed to seeing an improved management of ecosystems in West Lunga Game Reserve during the operations of our mining activities,” he said.
The overarching objective of FQM’s conservation strategy is to support DNPW to rehabilitate the ecological functions of the West Lunga Management Area. This includes restoring the complex of mammal species that have become locally extinct or endangered, and reinstating the historical status of West Lunga as a breeding sanctuary for elephants, whilst preserving the integrity of the mavunda forests.
Gen. Chinkuli further said KML, through the Trident Foundation, was also handing over VHF digital radios, weapons, ammunition and patrol equipment to DNPW as well as 5 newly constructed bridges to the Ntambu Royal Establishment. In 2015 Chovwe Wildlife Camp in the Musele Matebo Game Management Area was donated to DNPW to improve operational capacity and enhancement in the game management areas of West Lunga.
The Trident Foundation has invested over $1 million in wildlife and conservation activities around the Trident Project site and the WLMA – since 2014. The project has primarily focused on supporting conservation activities on the ground including recruiting, training, equipping and paying village scouts, infrastructure development and implementing conservation related livelihood programmes within the communities.
“This will see improved access and networking in the game management areas thereby promoting tourism and resources not only in the operational areas but North-Western Province as a whole,” he explained.
Speaking on behalf of the DNPW, Conservation and Management Director Andrew Chomba said: “You may be aware, some of the major challenges faced by the department countrywide is the lack of equipment and poor infrastructure which if are available are essential in protecting wildlife from the growing threat of illegal poaching and wildlife trade.”
“The department values the partnership with First Quantum Minerals, and hopes that it can expand to a fully-fledged conservation project as we continue our efforts towards addressing (the issues) that threaten the survival of wildlife in our protected areas. This kind of partnership is a wonderful example of how government and the private sector can work together in the wildlife conservation industry through improved wildlife protection and tourism development which has the potential to contribute to Zambia’s economy,” said Mr Chomba.
Mr Chomba has since implored other mining companies to emulate the Corporate Social Responsibility FQM has demonstrated by not only supporting social amenities, but wildlife conservation as well.
The WLMA was once a refuge for a multitude of wildlife species and was considered to be a breeding ground for elephants. Furthermore it connects to the Kafue ecosystem which is 66,000km2 and the overarching objective of this project is to provide connectivity to all the protected areas of western and north-western Zambia to allow for the free flow of mammals from the KAZA Trans Frontier Conservation Area (TFCA) through West Lunga and into Angola.
In 2016/17, FQM plans to recruit, train and equip more scouts, repair and maintain infrastructure at Jivundu HQ, establish more Community Resource Boards, increase the livelihood programme to additional communities, repair, maintain and expand the road infrastructure, build new scout camps in Chibwika Ntambu GMA, provide VHF communications to field staff and solar power and water facilities to existing field camps.