Wednesday, August 02, 2006


On 10 January, 2006, the Natural Resources Consultative Forum (NRCF) resolved that no elephant sport hunting (ESH) should be conducted in Zambia in 2006. The minutes were widely circulated; no replies were received in support – or answers to my queries, from elephant conservationists, CITES or the US Fish & Wildlife Service, though the Biodiversity Convention Secretariat replied that they had no real powers over signatories
An advisory note - and the minutes of the NRCF ESH meeting, were sent by the NRCF to the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources (MTENR), followed by a meeting between the NRCF Chairman and the Minister. No reply to the advisory note was received from the Minister.

On 11 April 2006 at the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) offices, an auction took place for 10 of the 20 elephant for sport hunting (the other 10 being taken up by the concessionaries where they had been made available)
Subsequent efforts to hold meetings of the full cross-sectoral NRCF to discuss policy and legislative issues affecting natural resources and environment have not been successful since January. Matters requiring attention include: the proposed Livingstone lion park and breeding project which has been approved by ZAWA anf for which no EIA was called for; regulations on Game Management Areas (GMAs), game ranching and captive breeding and national parks; tourism leases, wildlife harvesting quotas and the rationalization of hunting concessions, the impact of wildlife on customary and statutory landowners, the implementation of the National Policy on the Environment, feedback on joint forest management, national park public private partnerships, community natural resource management empowerment; UNDP/GEF programme on protected areas – and the state of the pilot projects in Bangweulu and Lower Zambezi; the World Bank SEED programme; the Bangweulu Ramsar site, its management and need for greater protection...

A case is currently before the High Court regarding the sale of part of the West Mvuvye National Forest No. 54 by Chieftainess Mwape to a businessman. A 99 year renewable lease was issued, signed only by the Commissioner of Lands – although, for areas in excess of 250 ha, it is required that the Minister of Lands signs. The plaintiff is the brother of Chieftainess Mwape and Senior Chief Luembe. The Forestry Department appear disinclined to act. There are other similar cases where national forest has been alienated.

The proposed sale of land greater than 250 ha by Chief Nyalugwe to a businessman was refused by the Nyimba District Council and by the Lands Minister

Senior Chief Luembe, removed as chief by the community and local government, has been re-instated – although he has yet to receive the return of his official stamp. He had been removed partly due to the dissatisfaction of the Community and the CRB for selling off a large area of land to a Petauke businessman behind the backs of the Luembe Trust – a trust of which I am co-director. This sale was not approved.

The Zambian Government - through the Ministry of Lands, is reviewing the draft land Policy. The World Bank is assisting them in finalising the review process. Recently the World Bank consulted a number of stakeholders on land policy related issues and have drafted an action plan for finalising the Land Policy, this draft action plan was presented to some 12 or so participants on Wednesday 12th April 2006. I attended part of the meeting. The draft plan – to be handed in to the Ministry on 13 April, had concluded that in future all land in Zambia fall under the control of the Ministry, with chiefs acting as ‘land administrators’ – a report which clearly had concluded that customary usufruct and tenure, and the chiefs, were obstructing Zambia’s progress. On my objecting to their obviously limited consultations and on the revolution they were suggesting, the consultants said they had been constrained by the list of people and organizations supplied by the Ministry of Lands, and had therefore not consulted the NRCF, the Royal House of Chiefs, Local Communities, the private sector and civil society. The WB representative at the meeting said that they would have to now introduce this essential further step in the process. The Land Alliance needs to monitor this.

From 19 – 21 April, the Environmental Investigation Agency (UK) held an International Ivory Enforcement Training Workshop in Lusaka funded by DFID. Rolf Shenton, Dave Cummings and I, plus the Nyalugwe CRB Secretary and a Luembe community member Mbeza Safaris is funding at NIPA taking the course on legal prosecutions. A presentation on the Singapore ivory seizure was made (2002) in which the details of the shipment of 6.5 tons of ivory – suspected to come mostly from the Luangwa valley in Zambia, sent from Lilongwe, via Durban, to Singapore, was made. DNA investigations of the ivory and soil isotope analysis so far reveals that the elephant come from two savanah populations. These now need to be matched with samples from Luangwa and elsewhere. While presenting his part in the investigation, Samuel Ngosi of the Malawian Anti-Corruption Bureau revealed – possibly for the first time, that his investigations had uncovered the fact that a total of 19 shipments had been made by the same people, using the same methods and carriers, between 1994 and 2002 – a total of 123.5 tons of ivory being shipped, much of it small worked pieces. No arrests or prosecutions have as yet been made. Some of this ivory might be hippo ivory (see TRAFFIC reports on the swing to hippo ivory), given that a recent survey I made of over 300 hippo in the lower Luangwa could find only one alpha male. In addition, in the nearby Lukushashi and Lunsemfwa rivers, most of the hippo have been poached.

Elephant continue to be poached in the Zambezi valley – one last week; and a village scout in Nyalugwe’s country in the south Luangwa, who had poached an elephant last year, is still on the run.

The recent elections held for the Luembe Community Resource Board have been nullified as a result of a boycott of the election by the residents of the Luembe section of the West Petauke Game Management Area, who – as the designated local community partners in the hunting lease agreement, felt that they should hold a majority Board representation. A new election has been held, the same chairmen re-elected, as well as a representative of all the Village Area Groups (VAGs).

Meetings have been held with the Disaster Management Unit (DMU) in the office of the Vice-President to determine why food relief has not been forthcoming for some communities in the West Petauke GMA hard hit by animal damage and flooding of villages and cropland. The investigation revealed that money had been issued to agents (ARDRA) in January, but that they had not yet delivered. Promises were made that the army would deliver food soon. In addition, promises made to communities by the DMU and ZAWA in March of 2005 (to empower specified community members and professional hunters to undertake crop protection) have not been forthcoming

Some professional hunters are currently assisting the Director of Conservation in ZAWA, Dr Lewis Saiwana, in the training of crop and human protection guards, with guidelines provided by Barry Shenton, former senior warden and veteran of the elephant control group in the Department of National Parks & Wildlife, a group established in the 1930s. In addition, the legendary control guard and hunter, Rice Time, will be called on to offer his sage advice.

In The Post newspaper of Friday 21 April, a letter marked SECRET was printed which had been copied to the Secretary General of the Patriotic Front Party by the Zambia President’s Principal Private Secretary, and which had been addressed to myself and three other people, stating that the President was in receipt of information that we were working against his MMD Party, and that – amongst other things, we had agreed to create artificial food shortages in Zambia by buying-up and destroying maize. The Post editorial of 22 April strongly condemned State House for the letter. The President was out of the country at the time. Three of the named people are safari operators. The allegations made are patently false. On 27 April, one of the accused was visited by security police. He was told that we had all been cleared and that an apology would be forthcoming. However, the rather sorry saga is further evidence of some rather sinister forces at work within the Zambian wildlife and tourism industry.

1 comment:

Mike Musgrave said...

What criteria were used by the NRCF to decide that no elephant hunting be permitted in Zambia? What population counts were used? Who is collecting this sort of data?

What would the NRCF consider acceptable conditions for allowing elephant sport hunting in Zambia ? Elephant hunting is hugely lucrative and surely if we can justify a sustainable offtake we should be considering this as an opportunity to put money back into conservation ?

Any comments ?