TOURISM and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo yesterday pushed the wildlife preservation crusade further when she extended the ban on hunting from lions and other big cats to all wildlife.
“We are banning the hunting of all wildlife (apart from lions) to all animals in Zambian game reserves and parks.
“This move is aimed at ensuring that we restock our fast-depleting game life and conduct a census of what we have and what we do not have,” Ms Masebo said.
The unprecedented move, hailed by conservationists as a first and brave decision, places Zambia alongside Botswana, Kenya that have a total ban on game hunting to preserve their wildlife, attract tourism and balance the eco-system.
A few professional hunters, mostly foreign and non-indigenous Zambians who have been profiting from the thriving “elite” game trade by forming cartels, are unlikely to be happy with Ms Masebo’s bold move.
This means for one year, all deals entered into with foreign hunters will be put on hold while those for big cats must be shelved indefinitely.
Ms Masebo has maintained that ordinary Zambians have so far gained little or nothing from the trade, benefits foreigners.
“The minister will go down in history as the woman who served the Zambian game,” Lusenga Trust chief executive James Chungu said.
And Ms Masebo said: “The Daily Mail deserves accolades for the manner they have incisively covered this important matter.”
Zambia has lost billions of Kwacha through dealings that have seen foreigners buy Zambian game cheaply.
About 153 antelopes, for instance, were sold to a South African consortium at a price four times less (US$734,000) than their official value recently.
The sables are now marooned at Kyindu Ranch in Lusaka after they were moved from Lusaka Park after South Africa raised alarm on possible foot and mouth disease.