JIMMY CHIBUYE, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has lifted the ban on hunting of big cats in Zambiaâ€™s game parks.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata announced the lifting of the ban at a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday and said that hunting of lions will only resume in the 2016/2017 season, while that of leopards can start in the 2015/2016 season.
â€œI am lifting the ban on the following conditions: the guidelines are drafted into a statutory instrument so that they become part of the wildlife law. Lion hunting should only resume in the 2016/2017 hunting season and not this year.
â€œLeopard hunting can resume this year 2015/2016 season, but with very cautionary quotas,â€ Mrs Kapata said.
The hunting of cats was enforced in January 2013.
Mrs Kapata said safari hunting is the most profitable and good for off-take of wildlife which can benefit all citizens if properly handled.
She said since the adoption of community-based natural resources management approaches, safari hunting has contributed significantly to improving the livelihoods of rural communities.
The minister said the main thrust to safari hunting in Zambia is the cat hunting, which involves the shooting of the lion and leopard.
She said the suspension of the hunting in the 19 hunting blocks greatly affected wildlife resources and the livelihood of the locals in the game management areas.
â€œGovernmentâ€™s move to ban the hunting of lion and other cats on January 10, 2013 had a good basis with a background of weak regulatory mechanisms,â€ Mrs Kapata said.
She said some problems that led to the ban included, declining lion populations in some areas due to over-harvesting, hunting of underage lions and depleting of the lion habitats.
Mrs Kapata said the leopard population was and is still healthy but hunting was affected because of lapses in monitoring aspects.
She said based on the advice given and fresh information from the field, ZAWA has produced documentation that describes the status of the lions in Zambia and prescribed guidelines that will be used to regulate cat hunting in Zambia.
â€œSome of the regulatory methods are currently being used in Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. These have been found to be effective,â€ Mrs Kapata said.
She said Government is sure the methods will be useful in the regulation of cat hunting in Zambia.
JIMMY CHIBUYE, Lusaka