The Zambia Tourism Board wishes to respond to the picture that has been circulating on social Media of three leopards that have been purported to have been killed in Zambia as trophies.
Specifically, the picture was first posted as ‘Trophy Picture’ on the Game Trails website showing off Cliff Walker, Bruce Watson and Doug Scandrol posing with three dead leopards said to have been killed the same day in Zambia. This has obviously angered a lot of animal lovers around the world especially given the record Zambia has enjoyed as a safe wildlife sanctuary.
As Zambia Tourism Board, our official position is that we cannot confirm the authenticity of this picture as it could have been taken from anywhere. The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), the statutory body of Government mandated to protect wildlife and issue hunting licences (where necessary, are not aware of the slaughter of these valuable cats and did not issue any licences to this effect).
We would like to state categorically, that the official position on hunting is very clear. In January this year the Government of Zambia through the Minister of Tourism and Arts Honorable Sylvia Masebo banned the hunting of lions and other endangered wild cats(including leopards) in a strong worded statement that in fact won her international recognition. (Click here to read Reuters story posted in the Business Traveler in January this year about the Minister’s ban on hunting)
The Minister’s position was (and still is) that there is more value in game viewing than blood sport adding that the population of big cats in Zambia was too low to support a sustainable hunting industry. Her ban was also in line with the new PF Governments policy that calls for sustainable tourism and ensures proceeds of any tourism activities benefit the local community. Trophy hunting has not been found to be favourable to these ideals.
With the foregoing, we would like to assure visitors to Zambia and the international community at large that Zambia’s policy on hunting has not changed and will remain in force for a long time to come.
The killing of leopards whether for trophy or by poaching should be condemned by all well meaning citizens of the world as it depletes the very wild life on which the future of our tourism so greatly depends.
As Zambia Tourism Board, wildlife (especially the big cats) has been one of our major pillars in the marketing of Zambia’s tourism and any threat to this critical part of tourism makes it difficult for us to proudly sell our country.
We would like to assure the international community that we shall get to the bottom of this story and update the world accordingly.
Meantime we thank all those who have added their voice to the condemnation of this barbaric act and urge you to support our efforts to enforce the ban on hunting of endangered species.
We also invite you to come and see our beautiful country, one of the few in Africa that has dedicated almost a third of its land area to the protection of wildlife; in 20 National Parks and 34 Game Management areas.
The Managing Director
Zambia Tourism Board