Analysis: SAKABILO KALEMBWE
THE need to come up with community game ranches in chiefdoms across the country cannot be overemphasised. The recent visits taken by Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Howard Sikwela so far prove that communities will benefit from this initiative once implemented.
But it is the entire Government system that needs to be commended, especially that the idea is an instruction from President Edgar Lungu.
Recently, reverend Sikwela has been on tour of duty to sensitise various chiefdoms in the North- Western and Copperbelt provinces on the necessity to have these facilities.
And during his tour, rev. Sikwela was consistent about one thing: the prerequisite to empower local communities with their own resources.
Community game ranching is a suitable mechanism to reduce the country’s rate of unemployment, with the potential to increase tourist visits around the country and improve community incomes and livelihoods. The program is meant to empower communities with their own wildlife resources and reduce pressure of demand for special licenses during traditional ceremonies.
The good news is that, there has been an overwhelming welcome of the idea in all the chiefdoms he has visited so far.
During Rev. Sikwela’s visit to Kalumbila District, Chief Mumena stated that the Lukendo Area of the chiefdom had been delineated over the last 10 years awaiting the development of a community ranch.
Starting a game ranch takes research, planning and patience on the part of the community.
Moreover, the Zambian Government through the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) promotes and encourages indigenous participation in the game farming industry.
Due to popular demand, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts has already put up procedures and requirements such as: the applicant must ensure their property is not located in an already gazetted public wildlife estate like a national park or game management area.
You can verify the location of your property through the Planning Unit at DNPW, Chilanga, the applicant must have documentary proof of ownership of the property on which they want to keep wildlife in captivity, the applicant must write a letter addressed to the Director of National Parks and the applicant must submit four bound copies of an ecological suitability study or assessment done on their property by a qualified wildlife specialist.
This document must include forms to fill in 1a and 1b available at the licensing unit at DNPW, and then the applicant must pay a fee on submission of the ecological suitability study.
In addition to the submission fee, the applicant may be required to facilitate an inspection by a team of DNPW officers at his or her own cost. Fees vary based on the size of the property in question.
Once the application is submitted, it will go to the Evaluation Committee on the Establishment of Private Wildlife Estates. If your application is approved you will be given authority to keep wildlife in captivity. Wildlife can be purchased from established game farmers or through DPNW.
And at the beginning of every year, all game farmers must renew their permit to keep wildlife and provide returns to DPNW.
This helps understand wildlife populations and involvement in the industry.
The department looks favourably on applications that clearly show partnerships with local communities.
Will your game ranch provide benefits and encourage local participation in conservation in a rural area?
That is what DNPW wants! More of these will ensure that the demand for illegal bush meat is reduced and there is wildlife in the parks that benefit current and future generations.
Wildlife does not just look after itself, just like cattle or goats, some kind of management system must be put in place in order to be successful at keeping wildlife. One must take into consideration veterinary care, seasonal supplementary feeding, range management, water provision and security.
The author is Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Tourism and Arts.
Analysis: SAKABILO KALEMBWE