By MUNTANGA MALINDI -
THE Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) has suspended the issuance of hunting licences in Mushingashi Conservancy following claims by the private ranching company that 30 elephants have been killed in the Kafue National Park.
ZAWA public relations officer, Sakabilo Kalembwe, said in a press release that the claims by the private ranching firm were sinister and aimed at embarrassing the Government.
Mushingashi Conservancy director, Darrel Watt said last week that at least 30 elephants have been killed in the area in the past six months.
This followed a recent incident where a lactating mammal was killed together with its baby with their tusks removed by suspected poachers.
Mr Kalembwe said ZAWA was fully aware of the scourge of elephant poaching which had not only hit Zambia but the continent at large.
He however, wondered how the private ranch could take pictures of the fresh carcasses of elephants and circulate them to the media without reporting the matter to ZAWA.
“Through our investigations as ZAWA, we understand the sinister motive being orchestrated by Mushingashi management that is bordering on embarrassing Government and seek for funding for its operations from well-wishers and non-governmental organisations to lower its costs.
“ZAWA would like to remind them to wind up their business properly without bringing the name of Government into disrepute if they have failed to manage the area,” he said.
He said the ZAWA took such cases seriously and elephant poaching should be reported so that efforts were reinforced to prevent further slaughter.
Mr Kalembwe noted that the private game ranch was located about 30 km from the ZAWA Mumbwa office with necessary radio communication but Mr Watt could still not report any of the claimed cases.
Apart from the reliable radio communication, ZAWA also had base camp, belonging to an honorary wildlife police officer member and other game ranches that had game scouts in the vicinity.
Mushingashi itself claimed to have forty or more game scouts armed and equipped with radio communication and therefore should have communicated with the ZAWA after finding elephant carcasses.
He called on Mushingashi management to administer their business properly without bringing the name of Government into disrepute and not bring ZAWA to blame for its shortcomings.