OPPOSITION United Party for National Development (UPND) President Hakainde Hichilema has opposed the lifting of the ban on the hunting of leopards and lions, by the Hon. Jean Kapata, the Minister of Tourism and Arts.
Mr. Hichilema argued that the move has understandably sparked concern because the ban was introduced for a reason; namely to protect our wildlife and the diminishing populations of big cats.
He alleged that the reversal is the latest sign of the desperation of the PF Government to try and cover gaps in the fiscal position that have resulted from its own poor planning and budgeting. It is also another classic reversal of one of their own policies.
“These are endangered species of wild cats that are on the brink of extinction. Government figures claim we are privileged host to approximately 4,000 lions and 8,000 leopards. However, even these numbers are hard to substantiate if you compare them with a 2012 study conducted by researchers from Duke University using high-resolution imagery. The study found 4 lions in the Liuwa Plains, less than 50 in Sioma Ngwezi, 386 in the Kafue National Park, less than 50 in Nsumbu and 575 in the Luangwa area sharing borders with Malawi. This translates to about 1,100 lions in the whole country, 3,000 less than the official figure. Numbers for these cats used to be much higher.” Mr. Hichilema stated.
In the year 2013, Zambia banned the hunting of lions and other endangered wild cats such as leopards, saying the big cat numbers in the southern African country were too low to have a sustainable hunting industry.
Then Minister of Tourism and Arts, Sylvia Masebo, stated that Zambia did not have enough of the cats for hunting purposes.
“The cats are gone, and no amount of convincing from any sector or group will convince me otherwise,” Mrs Masebo said