TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka
UNITED States Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz has called for more promotion of tourism and wildlife conservation in Zambia.
Mr Schultz said Zambia has a lot of tourism products which need to be marketed to help collect more foreign revenue from the sector.
He said this when he visited Kafue National Park this week to highlight the important role of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) in protecting the countryâ€™s national heritage.
Mr Schultz also wanted to better understand the operations of Zambiaâ€™s largest national park, and to make a call to action for the protection of Zambiaâ€™s wildlife.
â€œZambia has the chance to benefit from wildlife tourism for generations to come if conservation efforts are successful.Â The poaching crisis in southern Africa is a growing international concern.
â€œIn Zambia it poses a threat to the countryâ€™s reputation as an ecotourism destination.Â Poachers are more organised and better equipped than ever, and this compels stakeholders to work together to combat poaching and trafficking crimes,â€ he said.
The American envoy also said he is aware of the challenges facing ZAWA and called on stakeholders to assist in the protection of the wildlife.
Mr Shultz further pledged his governmentâ€™s continued financial support to the development of the tourism sector.
Ambassador Schultz also visited Game Management Areas surrounding the Kafue National Park.
He learnt about community-based natural resource management models that improve rural livelihoods.
Mr Schultz said for wildlife protection and tourism to succeed, communities surrounding national parks and GMAs must benefit economically. He encouraged Government, ZAWA, and local partners to explore new models of co-operation to ensure that communities are re-engaged and benefiting.
Further, the United States Agency for International Development will provide US$2 million in support of efforts to combat trafficking and improve joint wildlife management with ZAWA, their partners, traditional leaders, and communities over the next two years.
This work will coordinate closely with ZAWAâ€™s Intelligence and Investigations Unit and the North Luangwa National Park ecosystem and its surrounding communities.
TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka