Minister of Tourism, Rodney Sikumba yesterday met with Members of Parliament to find an amicable solution to challenges of human-animal conflict that have affected the country in the recent past.
Mr Sikumba noted that it is important for parliamentarians and Government to have dialogue over issues of human animal conflict.
Speaking whenhe met the members of Parliamentary Caucus on Wildlife Conservation, the Minister said instead of just tabling the matters before the floor of the House, a roundtable discussion is necessary for various stakeholders to appreciate the problems obtaining on the ground.
He said parliamentarians need to be involved more in resolving the issues collectively.
Mr Sikumba revealed that his ministry has resolved to make parliamentarians Honorary Wildlife Police Officers.
“My team and I this morning discussed that when we sit in the next five days or so, each and every one of you in the caucus will have to be honorary wildlife police officers. That we will expedite and we want you to be getting into the park at any given time to check on what is happening,” he said.
The Minister disclosed that the country only has 1,575 wildlife police officers across the country.
Mr Sikumba however said there is still a deficit of 4,800 wildlife police officers.
The Minister also bemoaned illegal activities in Game Management Areas like mining which he said exacerbates the human-animal conflict.
And different members of the Parliamentary Caucus on Wildlife Conservation bemoaned several issues of human animal conflict in their respective constituencies.
Katombola Member of Parliament, Clement Andeleki said elephants have been killing people and destroying crops making the situation susceptible to food insecurity.
Feira Member of Parliament, Emmanuel Tembo who also complained of an influx of elephants in his constituency accused wildlife police officers of acting swiftly when a person is found erring, a case which he said is not the same when people are under attack from animals.
And Bweengwa Member of Parliament, Kasautu Michelo complained of mining activities in Lochinver National Park saying the sound of machinery chases away animals.
“There is a company which is mining gypsum in my area and it’s like most of the animals have run away because of the noise. Our wildlife is being threatened,” he said.