Torurim minister Sylvia Masebo on Wednesdsay stunned delegates to the illegal consultative meeting on the wildlife sector when she announced the cancellation of lion and leopard hunting and made a u-turn that she had not cancelled the tenders for hunting licenses but merely stopped the process of tendering.
“Some of the clarifications on the process are that no tender that
was awarded has been cancelled, instead, what was stopped was the
process of tendering itself. I did not cancel the tender for safari hunting but merely stopped the process,” Masebo said much to the astonishment of the delegates.
From the meeting, it was clear that Masebo acted emotionally to announce the ban on leopard and lion hunting mainly on account of wrong advice from her friends, a close associate to Masebo said.
“Masebo is a puppet of individuals like Yousuf Zumla who is her chief advisor and has personal agenda to settle old score with competitors and has been using his relationship with Masebo not knowing that he is harming the entire sector,” said one of the delegates close to Masebo.
Regrettably, there was no scientific data to show that Lions and Leopards are endangered species in the country and therefore the delegates did not understand why she decided to ban the hunting of the two species.
“Income levels of ZAWA will go down since most of its income originates from selling lion and leopards. This will certainly have an effect on community income, pledges for the community and employment levels will reduce. As a result poaching levels will raise,” the delegate said
Another safari operator who spoke on condition of anonymity said that they were not consulted by Masebo when she made the decision to ban the hunting of leopards and lions.
“We have clients with booked safaris for 2013 hunting season and many other inquiries as well. The move will make Zambia an unpopular hunting destination,” he said.
Another delegate from the Professional Hunters Association of Zambia Gavin Robinson, who spoke before Masebo said that uncertainties in the tourism sector would certainly affect Zambia. He said that the earlier announcement by Masebo that she had cancelled the tenders would greatly affect the country’s tourism prospects.
“People in Europe and America wish to hunt and with the happenings, Zambia will lose income,” Robinson said.
He said that there were not merely killing the animals but were conservationists and therefore work closely with ZAWA to conserve wildlife.
And most of the delegates to the meeting complained to Masebo and Vice president Guy Scott that the notice for the consultations was short as they had to travel long distances. As a result of the short notice, only few delegates managed to attend.
As such some felt that the meeting was not consultative but merely a talking show for Masebo to push her agenda.
Only three chiefs attended out of the majority that were in Game management Areas (GMA).
Maebo banned the hunting of lions and other endangered wild cats such as leopards because it sees more value in game viewing tourism than blood sport, the country’s tourism minister said on Thursday.
Sylvia Masebo told Reuters big cat numbers were also too low to have a sustainable hunting industry.
“Tourists come to Zambia to see the lion and if we lose the lion we will be killing our tourism industry,” Masebo said.
The estimated $3 million that Zambia earned from safari hunting of all its wild animals annually was too little to merit the continued depletion of Zambia’s wildlife, she said.
“Why should we lose our animals for $3 million a year? The benefits we get from tourist visits are much higher,” she said.
The leopard population for the sprawling southern African country is not known while lion numbers are not believed to exceed around 4,500. Estimates for Africa’s lion population vary from around 20,000 to 30,000, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and is falling in the face of numerous threats including conflict with livestock farmers and loss of prey and habitat. Zambia’s moves follow neighboring Botswana’s decision to ban all sport hunting from 2014 as it also works to promote itself as a game viewing destination. Wildlife-rich Kenya set this trend when it halted trophy and sport hunting decades ago.