Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Kasanka National Park intends re-arranging the deck chairs...

Pic of the puku lover by David Rogers

The Kasanka National Park, which lies on the edge of the floodplains of the south-east Bangweulu, has since about 1988 been run by David Lloyd and his Kasanka Trust. As the former warden/biologist of the Bangweulu with its three national parks and its game management areas, I assisted David in the negotiations with government towards a public private management agreement, but it was Peter Moss – a former colleague in the Department of Wildlife and National, and a Mkushi farmer, Gary Williams, who set the park up and obtained the initial funding from the EU.

Unfortunately, the three of us no longer have anything to do with the park, it being run as a tourist operation, with no management plan in place, and no formal trust structures established with the Chitambo chiefdom in which the park falls, originally a portion of what was created in 1931, the Livingstone Memorial Game Reserve.

A report on two of the game counts carried out in Kasanka in 1952 and 1955

I have just been informed that the Kasanka Trust wish to translocate Black lechwe into the Kasanka National Park to augment the two males which recently arrived there. Black lechwe never occupied the Kasanka i.e. as a breeding population, as long as we have had records - and I have copies or access to most of them. Lechwe do mate with puku if there are none of their own kind about – being a member of the same genus, but the offspring of the union is infertile and will simply die off in time; but in the Kasanka the offspring of the lechwe male there should be removed at once, and the lechwe male as well.

Zebra in the Lavusi Manda circa 1910 (J.E. Hughes)

Black lechwe should not be translocated into the Kasanka simply to add to the tourists' species list. We already have the example of the scientifically irresponsible and high-handed translocation of the Kafue strain of zebra (with their stripe shadow) onto one of the floodplains allied with the Lukulu river – the main lechwe lekking ground, showing a complete disregard for the principles of wildlife conservation. No effort was made to find the remnants of the Bangweulu strain and to conserve them. And this sort of thing is happening all over Zambia as private farmers and the Zambia Wildlife Authority put and take animals at will.

The 5th National Development Plan says...
The greatest threat to wetlands in the country is from their degradation caused by human-induced processes and exacerbated by climatic fluctuations (particularly drought). It is estimated, for example, that over 20 percent of the flood plains and swamps have been degraded as result of dam development, siltation, and human settlements. At least 30 percent of dambos in Southern, Lusaka, Central, and Eastern Provinces of the country are degraded through inappropriate agricultural practices, siltation, overgrazing, and human settlements. Over 40 percent of wetlands’ wildlife resources have been depleted through over-hunting and habitat loss, while over 50
percent of wetland fisheries resources have been considerably over-exploited.

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