Lilongwe — Government is giving a 25 per cent monthly benefit toPeople living around Liwonde National Park in Machinga District to help them carry out development activities of their communities.
The communities receive a 25 per cent share each month from the total revenue collected in that particular month.
Board Chair for Upper Shire Association for Conservation (USACO) of Liwonde National Park (USACO) who is also Traditional Authority Chowe in the district said the Association was with an aim of sharing the money with Government which is realized each month to foster development activities for their communities.
“The association was formed in 2008 and government agreed to start sharing the money realized from the Park in 2011 but we started getting our shares this year,” explained Chowe.
He said in August this year the Association received MK1.3million out of the money realized from Park’s monthly collections adding that the Association sometimes receives MK750, 000 per month depending on how much has been collected.
Chowe said among other things the money which the Association gets is used for the construction of Teacher’s houses in various primary and nursery schools.
Senior Chief Liwonde expressed concern over elephants for damaging their crops and people for poaching in the park and asked government to ensure that working there were being rotted to make sure they do not stay long at one place.
“We have more elephants in the park and we would like to ask government to transferring some of them to other parks of the country. These elephants trek to our villages and in 2012/13 growing season they damaged and ate maize from over 300 hectors and more than 150 hectors of maize in the 2013/14 growing season,” said Liwonde.
Senior Chief Liwonde added that most people from some of the villages were failing to work during the day as they spent sleeping after spending their time guarding the Elephants to avoid damaging their crops and property.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani Nankhumwa speaking in response to Senior Chief Liwonde’s remarks said government has already put in place plans to transfer some of the elephants to Nkhotakota Game Reserve.
Nankhumwa added that this year’s tourism month was focused on empowering local communities but said efforts to do that would not work around Liwonde National Park if elephants continued destroying people’s maize fields.
“Every day we hear alarming cases of poaching and encroachment into the park. Sadly the culprits habours within our communities and others come from afar to connive with a few unpatriotic individuals for poaching our wildlife,” Nankhuma explained.
He said if poaching and encroachment continued in the Park, Tourists will no longer be interested to visit the area and as such they will be the ones losing the opportunity of benefiting from more revenue.
Nankhumwa then asked the communities to jealously guard against poaching and destroying facilities of the park to ensure posterity of their lives and development of the nation.
Liwonde National Park is surrounded by seven villages some of which are Chowe, Chimwala and Chikowera.