Government has bemoaned increased encroachment in Namwala and Mumbwa Game Management Areas (GMAs).
Itezhi Tezhi District Commissioner, Isaac Nabuzoka said Namwala and Mumbwa GMAs have been seriously encroached for human settlement and faming activities thereby threatening wildlife.
Mr Nabuzoka said this when Ministry of Tourism and Arts (MOTA) Permanent Secretary, Auxillia Ponga paid a courtesy call on him.
“Issues of encroachment in Namwala and Mumbwa Game Management Areas are very serious. What is the way forward? The GMAs are heavily encroached and nothing really is happening to address or normalize the situation” Mr Nabuzoka said.
Mr Nabuzoka also said that Lake Itezhi Tezhi was an important national fishery and economic engine of the district but fish population has declined on part of the lake outside the park.
He said Lake Itezhi Tezhi has a lot of stakeholders and requires careful management to ensure the lake and its aquatic life forms are managed sustainably without injuring other stakeholders.
Mr Nabuzoka noted that there were a number of challenges that the district was facing such as low staffing levels in government departments manning the lake and the Kafue National Park, fisheries and Marine Police.
“There are also gaps in our laws to effectively combat or manage some illegal activities in fishing” Mr Nabuzoka said.
Mr Nabuzoka also acknowledged stakeholders’ support from Game Rangers International (GRI) World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for the contributions they are making towards integrated conservation and wildlife management of the Kafue National Park.
The DC has since appealed for the PS’s office to help the district access the money under the COVID-19 for livelihood projects, water harnessing and boreholes.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Dr Auxillia Ponga said fighting encroachment in GMAs needs an integrated conservation and wildlife management approach.
She said Ministry alone may not resolve challenges that the district is faced with but needs concerted efforts from all stakeholders.
“We need to come together as stakeholders from ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, local authority, Police, Fisheries and others so that tourism can strive in Itezhi Tezhi” Dr Ponga said.
She said the role of government was to provide a conducive environment by ensuring quality infrastructure such as roads and law enforcement.
She further said tourism was an alternative to mining and one of the ways to diversify the economy.
Meanwhile WWF Country Director, Nachilala Nkombo said Itezhi Tezhi was richly endowed with natural resources that if harnessed can make tourism strive.
She reiterated that concerted efforts among stakeholders are needed to deal with the issue of encroachment in the GMAs and people’s livelihood.