A local community in Zambia recently enacted a show of bravery and patriotism to the delight of the rest of the world when they stood up and prevented the capture of wild animals from South Luangwa National Park for transmission to private game ranches.
According to the press release by an international wildlife charity ‘Born Free’, Zambia’s former Minister of Tourism and Arts, Dr Charles Banda, had given permission for the capture of 35 buffalo in South Luangwa National Park, and their transfer to Mbizi Safaris Ltd., a hunting operator with a game ranch in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley “”where they would most likely become victims of trophy hunts.”
The statement revealed that a letter exposed on social media indicated that, though the animals would remain government property, Mbizi can “harvest them on quota upon payment of hunting fees”, inferring pecuniary gains for the private firm at the expense of wildlife.
However, the statement revealed that “local community members living in the Lupande Game Management Area launched a protest on 23rd September in the Luangwa Valley settlement of Mfuwe, during which they blocked the road to prevent trucks taking animals out of the National Park.
“As a result, on the following day the current Minister Ronald Chitotela announced a temporary cessation of some of the game capture permits, and the empty trucks left the area under a police escort.” It said.
The rare act of bravery delighted many, including ‘Born Free’s Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones who said “To see the local community coming together to prevent these captures is very heartening, and comes hot on the heels of the withdrawal of local community support throughout Zambia for trophy hunting, following the consistent failure of payment of profit shares due to the community through Community Resources Boards.
“This is a great example of local people exercising their power to defend their rights and their heritage, at considerable personal risk”, he enthused.
The Mambwe Town Council Chairperson was also reported to have explained that the people of Mambwe were unhappy because they had not been consulted on the removal of the animals from the park.
The release also informed that Community Resources Boards and local chiefs in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley had already expressed their opposition to the game captures in a letter to Zambia’s President Dr Edgar Lungu dated 19th September which was also published online.
The practice of wild animal capturing for trophy hunts, which has attracted criticisms from concerned quarters around the world, is rampant in the region.