The global theme for this year’s commemoration is “The future of wildlife in our hands”, while the African continent together with Asia are celebrating the day under the theme “The Future of Elephants in our Hands”.
While acknowledging the economic importance of elephants to the country’s ecology and economy, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife expressed concerns that human encroachment and poaching were threatening the conservation of the animals.
Sakabilo Kalembwe, the department’s public relations officer, said in a statement that President Edgar Lungu is concerned about the high level of poaching in the country’s national parks, and has since directed all security agencies to participate in anti-poaching exercises to stop the vice as well as other wildlife crimes.
“This is a warning to those that may be planning to venture into poaching or planning to illegally settle in any of our protected areas to refrain as my ministry through the newly created Department of National Parks and Wildlife and with stakeholders will ensure that they are dealt with sternly,” he said.
According to official figures, Zambia has over 20,000 elephants, and the government generates between 7 million and 12 million Zambian Kwacha through animal fees from trophy hunting of elephants alone.
On the other hand, wildlife based tourism creates about 10 percent of jobs in Zambia.
The government, Kalembwe said, is considering various options to mitigate the conflicts between human beings and elephants.
“Elephants need our good efforts to survive and we also need its continued presence to develop our tourism and contribute to our own social economic wellbeing,” he added.
Zambia is endowed with a lot of wildlife resources, among them, 237 species of mammals and 749 species of birds. Enditem