IT’S WILD with SAKABILO KALEMBWE
THE brains behind the birth of Lusaka National Park must have believed in Albert Einsteinâ€™s thought that, â€˜if you canâ€™t solve a problem on the same level that it was created, rise above it to the next level.â€™
There were problems in the area where the park is located, among them was the illegal quarrying leading to serious environmental degradation.
Since the formation of the park, the catchment area of 6,700 hectares has changed from a bare land to a thicket with proper ground water and soon-to-be an economic spinner that will contribute to our gross domestic product (GDP) through tourism.
And with only a few weeks to go before two heads of state, Zambiaâ€™s Edgar Lungu and John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, open the park, the sanctuary is already revealing life suitable for biodiversity.
According to Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata, nearly all is done, only final touches are currently being worked on.
â€œWe are expecting that come second week of May, President Edgar Lungu and the President of Ghana will officially open the park,â€ she said.
Ms Kapata said what is left is paving certain parts and finalising the construction of shelters.
And there is something new! The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) has introduced blesbok, an antelope endemic to South Africa. Blesbok is a large antelope species with features and stunning horn formation and nyala which is similar to common impala.
Other species introduced in the park include white rhinos, giraffes, elands, hartebeests, zebras, sables, kudus, blue wildebeests, waterbucks, black lechwes, impalas, pukus, bushbucks, reedbucks, warthogs, one pangolin and axis dears.
There are no cats that have been introduced in the park, which was declared a reserve on May 6, 2011.
ZAWA director-general Kampamba Kombe said the authority has so far spent over K5 million on putting up various infrastructure in place before the national park officially opens to the public next month.
Mr Kombe believes that the reserve will be a huge attraction because of its proximity to Lusaka.
â€œWe expect to open the park sometime in May, we should have done this much earlier but there are logistical finishes that the ministry is trying to put in place. But come second week of Mayâ€¦., and we expect to have many visitors to the sanctuary,â€ he said.
He said the Lusaka park expenditure involved animal translocation, purchase of heavy equipment, grading of access and loop roads, drilling of boreholes and the water reticulation system.
Mr Kombe said the park will have activities like camping, walking safaris and bicycle riding, among others.
At the moment, there is a picnic site, which is ready for people who will to go to the park and spend a few hours. Construction of a lodge is also underway.
Other facilities include the construction of staff houses, roads and water points for animals. Management has already completed other infrastructure developments such as the electrified rhino sanctuary.
Mr Kombe said the construction of the main entry gate, which is a revenue collection point, and the information centre, is done.
The project started in the early 1990s, and a substantial amount of money has gone into the project and the facility is ready to open to the public.
Till next week, itâ€™s bye for now.
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IT’S WILD with SAKABILO KALEMBWE