THE Auditor General has taken the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) to task over unlicensed mining activities in national parks.
According to the latest Auditor General’s report for July, 2014 on the management of wildlife, there were nine mines carrying out mining activities without licences in various national parks in the country.
The report named the mines as Fwaya-fwaya, Kapili-Nkesa, Jeff, Shell, Chipembele, Mwase Phiri, Kamusizya and Lupita in Lukusuzi national park and Easi Fuels mine in Kafue national park as carrying out mining activities without mining licences in national parks.
The report observed that the mining activities in question had over the past years adversely affected the animal population and tourism activities in the national parks.
It cited Lukusuzi national park as having been heavily impacted by precious and semi-precious stone mining.
The report said the increasing exploitation of national parks for illegal activities had also contributed to loss of biodiversity and called for sustainable wildlife management.
“It is clear that the ZAWA has not been effectively monitoring the activities of encroachments and illegal mining activities resulting in loss of biodiversity.
“Allowing mining in protected areas will irreversibly damage wildlife and the environment,” the report said.
In response, ZAWA noted the observation and stated that they would undertake measures with a view to reclaiming all land damaged through prospecting and mining activities and make provision in legislation for mining investment to take greater responsibility for its operations.
The report also highlighted concerns about failure by ZAWA to undertake Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) with regard to 21 licenses issued to tourist operators without approved EIAs from Zambia Environmental Management Agency, (ZEMA).
The report also highlighted concerns on irregular cash advance payments to Community Resource Boards, (CRBs) for Game Management Areas.
According to the report, a sum of K1, 368, 119,603 was irregularly disbursed between 2008 and 2011 to 27 CRBs but as of December 2013, no action had been taken to recover the funds.
The report was also concerned about the lack of documentation on hunting quotas which had made it difficult to monitor hunting activities to assist reduce the decline in wildlife population.
About 30 tour operators with valid concession agreements signed between 2003 and 2008 were not operating and had not honoured their obligation to pay fixed charges and as at December 31, 2013, ZAWA had not taken any action against operators hence losing revenue.
The report further cited weak accountability at several levels as having affected wildlife conservation in Zambia.
Times of Zambia