80 Black Lechwes have gone missing in the Bangweulu Wetlands in Luapula Province, a Conservationist working in the northern circuit, Nsama Musonda Learns has said.
Ms Learns says the animals were captured from the Bangwelu Wetlands during the now banned exercise where the Department for National Parks and Wildlife began capturing wildlife species from their natural habitats to private ranches.
She has appealed to all concerned Zambians, Civil Society Organisations and Media and Human Rights activists to help locate the Lechwes which are endemic to the Bangweulu Wetlands.
Ms Learns said no one knows where these species have been taken, what the objective for their capture was and whether they survived the transportation and if they have adapted to the new home.
“As the Northern circuit we are demanding for their return as the operations officers at Bangwelu wetlands were not involved in the process, no ecological report was produced and the community was not involved”, she lamented.
Ms Learns said these species are a pride and heritage of the Bangwelu wetlands and they don’t deserve to be robbed of their natural home.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Ronald Chitotela on 2nd October 2019 announced the suspension in the movement of animals from National Parks to Private ranches.
The suspension came a few days after controversy surrounded the movement of animals in Mfuwe where trucks were turned back by residents.
He said it was alleged that one of the Directors at the Ministry of Tourism and Arts signed a certificate of movement of live animals from one national park to a private ranch.
Bangweulu Wetlands is the only place in Africa where the Black Lechwe still occurs in significant numbers.
The population in 2005 was estimated at 35,000 but the area has the potential to carry up to 350,000 Black Lechwe.