The Department of National Park and Wildlife says the number of both local and foreign tourists has continued to plummet in the Lochnivar National Park due to dwindling wildlife population.
Speaking in an interview with ZANIS today, Area Warden Akayombokwa Kamona said only about 6,000 local and foreign tourists visited the National park last year a figure which is likely to dwindle further if no drastic measures such as intensified Anti- poaching patrols, and restocking of the National park are undertaken.
He said apart from birding opportunities, most foreign tourists in the past were attracted to the National Park because of larger mammals such as wildebeest, Zebra which have gone extinct and buffaloes whose population are also hanging on a miniature thread of extinction.
Mr Kamona also observed that the encroachment of the National Park by local communities for grazing of their domestic livestock was another factor hindering tourists from visiting the park as they were only interested in seeing wildlife and not livestock.
He explained that there is need to put in place robust Anti-poaching measures, recruitment of more wildlife staff, and transport, as well as financial resources to put to an end all poaching activities in the National Park and thereafter, restock the Park with larger mammals that got extinct.
He added that, this is the only potent way to attract more foreign tourist to the park and earn government the much needed revenue.
“We have seen a remarkable reduction of both local and foreign tourists coming to Lochnivar National Park mainly due to dwindling wildlife especially the larger mammals such as zebra, wildebeest which have gone extinct due to poaching. As of last year, we had about 6,000 local and foreign visitors a figure which is likely to go down in the near future if no drastic measures such as intensified Anti-poaching and possible restocking are not done,” said Mr Kamona.
However, Mr Kamona says there has been a 40 per cent reduction in poaching in the National Park due to measures that were put in place such as community sensitisation on the need to protect wildlife, and changes in Anti-poaching tactics among others.
Since its establishment in 1969 the Lochnivar National Park was teeming with thousands of wildlife and in particular over 125,000 Kafue lechwe which are now at about 8,000 due to massive poaching in the past years . The National park has also vast birding opportunities with over 420 different bird species in its 428 square kilometres.