Illegal Wildlife Trade Threatens Zambia’s Wildlife Management
Permanent Secretary to the Ministry for Tourism and Arts has warned that illegal wildlife trade in Zambia jeopardises responsible wildlife management, encourages corruption, contributes to tax evasion and threatens a vital source of economic revenue for the country.
He was opening the Multi-Agency Capacity Building Workshop on investigations into wildlife crimes in Livingstone when he made these comments. He told the crowd that cross-border wildlife crimes posed a major challenge to the conservation and protection of wild fauna and flora.
He warned those present that unless it was cracked down on, these crimes would lead to a significant loss of biodiversity.
Reverend Sikwela noted that given the prevailing levels of wildlife crime in the continent, with large volumes of ivory originating in Africa having been seized in Asia in the recent past, there is need to improve the capacity and enhance collaboration amongst law enforcement agencies through increased surveillance and information sharing.
The Acting Director of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force Edward Phiri backed Mr Sikwela’s points and noted that the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, particularly elephant and rhino horn, was becoming much more sophisticated, with criminal syndicates using complex smuggling efforts to avoid detection.
Zambia’s biodiversity has the potential to significantly increase GDP, provide jobs and offer reliable food and water sources, but only if it is protected with the utmost commitment by the government and non-government organisations. Many believe the government is not doing enough and that events like this are lip-service, especially with the deeply controversial hippo cull on the table.