Elephant Charge mints K400,000 for wildlife (Zambia)


Sakabilo Kaembwe, Columnist, (ZAWA public relations officer), Daily Mail

Date Published
There was something different at the just-ended handover of the 2014 Elephant Charge proceeds at the German ambassador’s residence in Lusaka’s Longacres area on Tuesday. 
I am used to seeing conservationists in their bush-green and khaki colours, but that was not the case at this event.
It was mainly black and charcoal grey suits, some pin-striped ones as well.
And for once, one tends to feel like they are at Parliament or court. Then I realised that wildlife and conservation work is serious business. Yes, business in the sense that a cheque worth over K400,000 was given to major conservation stakeholders.
In attendance at the event was Ministry of Tourism and Arts permanent secretary Steven Mwansa, who was the guest of honour, Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) acting director-general, Andrew Kombe, American ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz, British high commissioner James Thornton, German ambassador Bernd Finke and other representatives from many countries and organisations.
Mr Finke observed the many challenges and threats to the wildlife and wilderness areas in Zambia, such as alarming levels of poaching, encroachment, human-wildlife conflicts, deforestation, the under-funding of ZAWA, the issue of mining in national parks, or the disputed issuance of hunting licences for elephants, lions and leopards.
“At the same time, there is need to address various, sometimes divergent stakeholder interests, from Safari and lodge operators, from wildlife protection organisations, the hunting lobby, bush meat-lovers, traditional leaders and local communities, the Zambian government and co-operating partners,” he said.
Mr Finke noted that there is hardly a speech about Zambia’s economic future, including his own which does not highlight the still widely unused potential of the safari tourism sector as a locomotive for creating jobs, generating income and reducing dependency on the mining industry.
“The equation is quite simple: No wildlife, no wildlife tourism; no jobs, no income generation; no progress in the fight against poverty,” he said.
Mr Finke urged everyone to look at wildlife conservation through a wider lense that encompasses economic and financial gains; because wildlife conservation is also about the obligation of mankind to preserve the natural heritage of our planet, to preserve God’s creation.
“There is also a cultural or even spiritual dimension to wildlife conservation in Zambia. Since the time of our forefathers, wildlife has been part of the spiritual and cultural identity of Zambians. It is part of many traditions, rituals and dances.
“Out of respect for our ancestors, we should not risk to lose this heritage due to a lack of commitment and implementation of existing laws,” he said.
Germany is supporting the Zambian wildlife sector with two regional programmes.
One of them is the development of the Kavango-Zambezi Trans Frontier Conservation Area (TFCA) that includes Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola with more than €40 million investment.
Another is the establishment of the new Zambia-Malawi TFCA, comprising the North Luangwa National Park and the Nyika Plateau in Malawi. It has a volume of about €18 million and a special thematic focus on the support of local communities in the surrounding game management areas (GMAs).
Germany is also supporting the work of the Frankfurt Zoological Society in North Luangwa National Park.
Meanwhile, Tourism and Arts permanent secretary Steven Mwansa urged people to change their mindsets from viewing wildlife as food.
“There is a lot of work that Government is doing to ensure that these natural resources are preserved and can benefit all,” he said.
He reminded the guests that his ministry is working on a law to establish wildlife police and that the bill will soon be tabled in Parliament.
The Elephant Charge mission is to ensure the survival of Zambia’s wildlife and wilderness areas by supporting Zambian conservation organisations and educate the children of today, tomorrow’s leaders and decision-makers, on the need to conserve Zambia’s natural assets.
Each year, a secret and untouched piece of Zambian wilderness is transformed temporarily into the site of a grueling 4×4 challenge called the Elephant Charge.
Beneficiaries of the proceeds include North Luangwa Conservation Programme, South Luangwa Conservation Society, Chipembele and Chongololo education clubs, Conservation Lower Zambezi and Game Ranger International among others.
The money is used for activities like running educational outreach, anti-snaring patrols and construction of a bridge in Kasanka National Park in Serenje, among others.
Till next week, I sign out.