Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masembo’s speech at the annual Elephant Charge

About Elephant Charge

Elephant Charge is an annual 4×4 challenge that raises funds for conservation in Zambia.  During the Independence Weekend some 250 bush lovers and 4×4 enthusiasts converge in some remote spot for a camping weekend of extreme driving and orienteering.  In 2013, the fifth event, the 20 teams worked hard to raise a whopping KR 1,480,000 and this success was celebrated yesterday at the official hand over of  the funds to the conservation beneficiaries.

The twelve beneficiaries work tirelessly throughout the country conserving Zambia’s natural heritage and educating the next generation on the importance of conservation.   There are many challenges and threats to the wildlife and wilderness areas in Zambia including increased poaching, encroachment, human wildlife conflict, deforestation.  These conservation bodies have to raise funds for their important work and Elephant Charge is honoured to support them.

Sylvia Masembo’s speech at the annual Elephant Charge, March 13, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to convey the gratitude of the pf government to the continued support from the german government towards the wildlife sector generally and to the zambia wildlife authority in particular. This is commendable.

Let me outline some of the challenges and threats besetting this sector for your consideration:

  • The wildlife sector in zambia mainly challenged by:
    • Traditionally poor operational and capital funding
    • Insufficient workforce of 1395 wpos and 700 village scouts in the field
    • Underpaid and poorly accommodated wildlife police officers and village scouts
    • Vast areas to man comprising at least a third of zambia’s land mass of
    • 20 national parks occupying 8% of zambia
    • 36 gmas occupying 23% of zambia
  • Further challenges have diminished the impact of operations in the field, primarily:
    • Lack of appropriate representation of the role of chiefs and their communities especially in the gmas
    • Increasing human-wildlife conflicts brought about by problems of increasing human populations and attendant encroachment of protected areas leading to increased human-wildlife conflicts on account of unfamiliarity with the rural conditions by urban returnees
    • Poor education and extension services into these communities comprising 74 chieftaincies
  • There are further challenges from inadequate plant and equipment to improve accessibility and increase seasonality and commercial sustainability of business ventures
  • Threats of dishonest and unscrupulous private sector not prepared to invoice locally and in local currency for services offered against zambian natural and human resources, which both directly and indirectly subsidize these trophy hunting and adventure photographic activities in national parks and gmas

Against this backdrop and between january and december 2013 the pf government had injected over zmw 70 million which was applied towards the following:

  • Payment of salaries to all wildlife police officers;
  • Payment of dues inclusive of arrears to village scouts in various crbs;
  • Payments of dues to their royal highnesses from various historical operations;
  • Payment for aerial surveys throughout the country in order to determine the wildlife stock-in-trade on the ground as an aid to the way forward from 2015 onwards
  • Payment for anti poaching patrols throughout the national parks and gmas.

In 2014 and with the continued support of the pf government we are expectant of further unprecedented support to the wildlife sector never before seen since zambia’s independence 50 years ago

This is a clear demonstration of 100% pf government commitment.

We are currently reviewing wildlife policy and legislation with a view to fulfilling the pf manifesto and promises made to the poor of this country. We recognise that in the current scheme of things not all relevant portfolios fall under this ministry like foresty and we are hopeful that with new overtures at operational level our staff shall work even closer to achieve a common objective.

We must exploit all these natural synergies to ensure that our national objectives for the wildlife sector are met in a timely fashion. Even though there are challenges with a weak law enforcement regime and poor penalties relative to fines for cattle-rustling and similar crimes our endeavour is to meet this challenge head-on with new subsidiary legislation

Wildlife crimes are linked to terrorism as can be seen on a regional and global scale and it is necessary that we collaborate with co-operating partners in this fight for our natural resources which is a fight for the survival of humanity. Criminals are very sophisticated and come in various guises and undercover of apparently normal trading regimes.

Zambia by its geographical location is exposed to dangers of infiltration of criminals from the region and we must be ready to curb this illegal activities whilst improving services for the bona fide visitors at all times. We must therefore fight together against this scourge which is impacting on the livelihoods of normal ordinary zambians. We welcome any assistance to fight the scourge and to build capacity to manage these renewable resources.

Thank you for your continued support

 Article by: The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA)