More than 2,000 households have encroached on the lower Zambezi National Game Park where people are also engaging in illegal mining activities.
Area warden in the Lower Zambezi Management unit, Chongo Puta discloses that this has also led to increased cases of human/animal conflict in the area.
Mr Puta said during a meeting with Lusaka Province Minister Sheal Mulyata that encroachment coupled with population growth is contributing to high cases of elephant and crocodile attacks in the area.
He noted that the majority of people in Luangwa district depend on fishing and gardening on the banks of the Luangwa and Zambezi rivers which he said, increases human/animal interactions as the two rivers are also a source of water for wildlife.
Mr Puta highlighted inadequate operational funds as a major challenge in the operations of the National Parks and Wildlife in the area.
“There are 44 officers though the structure requires 90 for us to operate effectively. We do not receive enough funds to facilitate the engagement of members of the community to supplement our efforts.
“ We are not able to buy fireworks which the community members ignite to prevent being attacked by jumbos,” he said.
And Ms Mulyata stressed the need to address the human/animal conflict which has been affecting communities in Game Management Areas (GMA) for many years.
Accompanied by her Permanent Secretary Elias Kamanga, Ms Mulyata observed that Rufunsa and Luangwa normally report such cases stressing the need for stakeholders to sit and find a way forward.
Expressing disappointed with the state of the National Parks and wildlife offices, the provincial minister stressed the need to renovate the office which is in a deplorable state.
Meanwhile, Provincial Permanent Secretary Elias Kamanga observed that government has not done well to manage the tourism sector in Luangwa to increase government revenue.
Mr Kamanga stated that Luangwa has potential owing to the Luangwa and Zambezi rivers and also the Lower National Park.
The Permanent Secretary also expressed concern that office infrastructure for the National Parks and wildlife and ZANIS under the district administration are in a deplorable state.
Mr Kamanga noted that he was audited and ordered to build new office as they appear to be a death trap.
The Permanent Secretary directed the District Commissioner to include the construction of a new office block in next year’s budget.
And Feira Member of Parliament Emmanuel Tembo stated that human/animal conflict is a sensitive issue which requires to be addressed without pointing fingers.
Mr Tembo stressed the need to find a solution which will promote co-existence.