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Blue Lagoon ZAWA camp burning unacceptable

THE decision by Mumbwa’s Naleza villagers to burn down a Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) camp following the death of a notorious poacher Evans Mwaampwe at Shamikobo in the Blue Lagoon National Park is a sad development.
Mr Mwaampwe was recently shot in the right leg by a wildlife police officer when he attempted to escape. He unfortunately died last Wednesday on the way to Nangoma Mission Hospital due to excessive bleeding.
He was a former village scout under the Shakumbila Community Resource Board (CRB) who was dismissed some time back by the CRB due to poaching-related offences.
Mr Mwaampwe had allegedly been killing wild animals, especially the Kafue lechwe in Blue Lagoon National Park and the surrounding Kafue flats. At the time he was being shot, he had allegedly killed an adult male buffalo.
Upon receiving information about his death, the villagers schemed a night attack on Namoomba ZAWA camp. They first went to the nearest Airtel tower and allegedly vandalised cables so that the area could not be accessed on mobile phones.
On the night of Thursday, August 20, the villagers ambushed the families at the camp, poured petrol on the aluminum-tented homes and set the camp ablaze.
According to a field report, Mr Mwaampwe was shot in the right leg by a senior wildlife police officer in a bid to disable him after firing three warning shots.
“As they were coming out of the wooded area located east of Shamikobo, the patrol team saw two suspected poachers skinning an animal. The suspected poachers also saw wildlife police officers about 600 metres away. They picked up a shotgun and started running away after firing two shots at the officers,” the report reads in part.
The report states that Mr Mwaampwe fell down and his colleague he was running with picked up the gun and vanished into a thickets.
“Three officers gave chase to the one who went into the woodland, one remained in the plain with the wounded suspect while the other officer remained at the place where the buffalo had been killed.”
It is worth noting that Mr Mwaampwe was alleged to have been a notorious poacher who abandoned his duties as a village scout and had previously exchanged gunfire with several patrol teams.
The deceased was later apprehended and identified as a former village scout who was dismissed due to poaching. The other suspect was identified as Nsowa Himainda who had fled with a gun.
According to the report, the gunned down suspected poacher had a history of firing at officers whenever he was confronted by wildlife police.
And the Mumbwa ZAWA office is in possession of an abandoned motor cycle believed to have been left by Mr Mwaampwe during one of his illegal hunting escapades sometime back.
Meanwhile, one of the people whose homes were burnt, a Mrs Lungu, said she lost household goods worth K25,000 and K1,500 cash in the inferno.
The other family, the Sakalas, lost household goods worth K10,000 in the fire.
People must be aware that a national park is a prohibited area. Communities like those in Naleza should learn to control their tempers and avoid taking the law into their own hands.
ZAWA has given the people of Naleza 30 lechwes to hunt as a bona fide resident quota for them to benefit from the wildlife in their community. It is, as such, strange for them to support poaching activities such as those allegedly committed by Mr Mwaampwe.
Till next week, adios!
The author is ZAWA public relations officer
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