The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) has refuted media reports that Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) and ZAWA were beating and evicting people from Mumbwa Game Management Area (GMA).
ZAWA Communications and Public Relations Officer Mwila Muliyunda has disputed reports by Radio Phoenix saying no one was beaten or evicted by ZAWA and DDMM in Mumbwa area.
Ms Muliyunda said the issue of people who have settled illegally in the conservation Buffer and special Use zones of Mumbwa was before the courts of law and that the case was discharged by the Lands Tribunal on September 15 2013.
She however said the courts had ordered for the immigrant settlers to relocate from the zones by November 30 2013 failure to which they will forcibly be evicted by government through various law enforcement wings but the court order has not yet been implemented.
Ms Muliyunda stated that the people who have settled in the area in question are migrant farmers from Southern province who have settled in areas that have been reserved exclusively for wildlife by indigenous people of Mulendema, Kabulwebulwe and Chibuluma chiefdoms as they derive revenue and employment from both consumptive and non consumptive tourism in the area.
She said from the time the migrants settled in the area, indigenous communities and ZAWA have suffered loss in terms of revenue from wildlife habitat due to rampant deforestation, increased poaching activities especially key species such as elephants.
Ms Muliyunda said the communities are aggrieved because they relocated from the area in the 1950s to pave way for conservation of wildlife but the increase in human settlements has led to loss of economic value of Mumbwa GMA.
She said it was not in the interests of ZAWA to victimise people in any away but people should assign value to wildlife by settling in the areas provided for them and avoid the areas which are reserved for wildlife.
She appealed to the affected people to remain calm as ZAWA was trying to correct the situation through the courts of law.