Columnists Features

Hunting ban: Get it right

I AM writing this column from my father’s bedside at the University Teaching Hospital. I am mentioning him here because he is the man who introduced me to the love of wildlife.
Apart from having been a headteacher for decades in Kalabo on the terraces of the Liuwa, Mr Stephen Kalembwe responsibly hunted with a W.W. Greener shortgun around the Liuwa Game Management Area in the ‘80s.
He never shot small birds, and said he wanted them to grow and bring forth offsprings, the consideration which today I still salute.
And talking about hunting, I want us to get things right in case there is some information loopholes.
Opposed to widespread blatant misinformation reports on social media and some sectors of the media that the hunting ban on elephants has been lifted, please note that this is incorrect.
According to the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) communications and public relations officer Readith Muliyunda the public and the international community shoud be informed that this is not the case.
“The ban on hunting of elephants and big cats is still in effect. ZAWA would also like to state that even before the ban was effected, Zambia was never a pro-elephant hunting nation. In the last 10 years, even before the ban, hunting of elephants in Zambia has been at the lowest and quotas significantly small in the region and was restricted to two out of the 36 Game Management Areas (GMA’s) in Zambia, namely, Rufunsa and Lupande in the Eastern part of the country,” she says.
Muliyunda says the only reason for hunting in these areas was because they were overly populated and causing human wildlife conflicts.
She said initially, ZAWA would simply control (kill) the animals though this was seen to be a waste when some income could be gained through controlled hunting.
It was on this basis that sport hunting was introduced here, and incomes ploughed back into helping the surrounding communities.
“ZAWA, being committed towards protecting and conserving wildlife, offered significant input and guidance needed for the Ministry of Tourism and Arts’ decision to lift the hunting ban,” she says.
People must also be aware and understand that the decision to lift the ban is not merely a consumptive matter, but a conservation one as well, as money, which is raised in these animal overpopulated areas is usually ploughed back into conservation.
The decision is also a human-wildlife conflict mitigation measure as these places are known for this problem, thus conservation is much more than just allowing uncontrolled animal over-populations.
She says it is about ensuring the balance between humans and wildlife, for harmonious existence of both. ZAWA has been a target of all sorts of misunderstandings because this role is not clearly understood.
In other cases, especially in communities prone to human wildlife conflicts, the authority has been wrongly accused of caring more about the welfare of animals than that of human beings.
I strongly support ZAWA’s stance because people should understand that as much as wildlife should serve man, it must be sustainably utilised because the importance of conserving and protecting wildlife, borders on the enhancement of our society and human life itself.
It is for this reason that environmental conservation should be a collective human obligation because without wildlife, there would be no human life to speak of because wildlife enhances society and human life.
Wildlife could generally survive without humans. But we can’t say the same for human life in the absence of wildlife and the natural environment, as it is an important basis for our nutrition and economic survival.
It is for this reason that this column will try to bring some understanding between this relationship in order to preserve our generation and that of wildlife.
Apart from its economic benefits, wildlife contributes to the ecological balance of nature, the food chain and nature cycles. It is also a source of ecological, biodiversity, economic, recreation, and scientific, social and cultural values.
Everything in life is interdependent and maintaining that delicate balance is the answer.
Till next week here, I say bye!

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