Zambia’s Wildlife Trafficking, Are officials Aware?

Zambia’s wildlife trafficking officials are aware?

The dates might be elusive on my fingertips but an approximation is in order to ensure that l am within my perspective in today’s writings. The day must have been 2nd January, 2013 when then Minister of Tourism, Sylvia Masebo summoned journalists to her office to drop a bombshell and subsequently, justify her unceremonious dismissal of four top senior managers including its Director General, Edwin Matokwani.

The usual uncompromising but elegant, Masebo sometimes referred to as an iron lady of Zambia’s modern politics had a challenge for the men of the pen and note books to thoroughly investigate the many planes that were invading the Zambian airspace to air lift Zambian animals to unknown destinations.

Ironically, since it was coming from a politician, it was kind of difficult to trust her especially that her and the colleague, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba popularly known, as GBM sat in the same cabinet under the King Cobra, Michael Sata. But it had been rumoured that the duo literally spoke on key cabinet decisions. So for me it was Masebo Boza!

My thoughts were further amplified by the Minister of Defence, Geoffrey Mwamba, some clergymen and opposition political parties who claimed Masebo was just hallucinating and that there has never been a breach of Zambia’s airspace. Yes l was on the same wavelength of thinking with these individuals. It was just never possible that Zambia could be so porous by design to allow such illicit activities because the minister in charge had said our men and women in uniform are ever alert. Shockingly, few days later, a major revelation was made that a Mozambican national was allegedly operating an air strip in Luangwa district of Lusaka. Then reality dawned on me to begin to question the competence of the country’s armed forces in dealings with issues especially that someone had been allowed to operate an airstrip in a foreign country. But this slowly died out after Madam Masebo was dropped by the President.

There was no follow up from the government to substantiate the claims that a senior government official had made about the safety of our animal in various national parks dotted across the country. When the country was almost departing that episode, a much more sophisticated exposure was made following the arrest of seven foreign nationals in Southern Province for attempting to transport sable antelopes to South Africa. I thought for a moment why Masebo’s utterances were ignored!

Where some indigenous people involved in the execution of this evil act! Who is involved and Why! Why are they being protected! These questions are not be getting adequate attention from the relevant offices governing the tourism industry. Like in the past, the excitement will soon die out and everything will be forgotten because no one just cares like it was in the case of Sylvia Masebo’s revelations, its business as usual. I vividly remember one senior government official revealing that she was surprised to have found Zambian animals in Brazil for an exhibition fetching handsomely yet government did not know how these animals found themselves there. Surely, we seem not too serious with the management of resources that God has entrusted with us since time immemorial.

So many things appear to be carpeted with impunity despite having structures to deal with these matters. For instance in the latest revelation of animals being transported from Lusaka to Southern Province, Where is the source of these animals! Has Government through the Ministry of defence started manning the many abandoned airstrips across the country to ensure that our wildlife is protected? One day, we shall wake up to find even mbeba, a chipatanese (People of Eastern Zambia) delicacy has been airlifted thus coordination is needed between the government security wings and ministry of tourism and not rhetoric that have been exposed to lately. The recent revelations are just a tip of an iceberg of what is going on in our wildlife sector. Remember Eight more South Africans have just been arrested for being in possession of 16 impalas in Central Province. The trend is shocking and worrying, it’s time to act to save our wildlife.

Source : Mabvuto Phiri

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