Sunday, November 04, 2007

Zambian Chiefs waking from their slumbers...

Chief Shakumbila's dissatisfaction at not being consulted, or worse - at seeing no benefit for himself and his people from 60 zebra wrested from the Blue Lagoon National Park - an area first obtained by the late Erica and Ronnie Critchley as a ranch, then later left to the Government as a National Park, strikes a rich seam of sympathy among those living around National Park and Forests, the very swathes of good country which they had voluntarily given over to conservation - the implicit understanding being that they would benefit from such an altruistic action. Chief Nsefu is the historical case in point. He had entered into just such an arrangement with the Provincial Administration in the Protectorate days of 1949, at first reaping funds for the Native Authority, only to see matters get out of control and part of his chiefdom become the Nsefu Game Reserve and then later to see it included in the South Luangwa National Park. The people from Nsefu now have no direct say in the management or earning opportunities there - let alone the harvesting of bush materials and wild food from what was once their land. And with the acceptance by the House of Chiefs of Chiefdom Trusts, the muttering in the villagers and in the House at this state of affairs will soon rise to a shriek.

The capture of animals from National Parks or Game Management Areas for the stocking of other areas, now a common occurrence it seems, is a worrying trend. These zebra were clearly intended for Liuwa Plain National Park and not Lusenga Plain National Park which has not been cared for for 30 years or more. And there is a fellow beavering away in a public private partnership with ZAWA at Blue Lagoon already. I wonder what he thinks of all this. I have written elsewhere about the translocation of zebra from Kafue to Bangweulu and the failure to do something about the native species already there - a different animal to the Kafue lot. The Convention on Biological Diversity's central pillar, the Precautionary Principle, is being totally ignored.

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