PRIORITISE HUMANS IN WILDLIFE CONSERVATION, SAYS LUNGU

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By BENNIE MUNDANDO

ONLY few people in Africa benefit from wildlife because communities have not been given space to participate in the type of business, President Edgar Lungu has said.

Speaking during a panel discussion of Heads of State from Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana at the Elephant Hills Resort in Zimbabwe yesterday, President Lungu said the rights of human beings were paramount and should be given priority against a backdrop of efforts to conserve wildlife.

He however questioned whether there was a mechanism to protect human beings against conflict with wildlife.

“Have we got capacity to protect those rights? We need mechanisms to protect our people. Animals destroy food crops and claim lives of our people, so since we have seen potential in animal conservation, we need mechanisms to protect people,” President Lungu said.

He said there was need to acknowledge that people had lived with animals, looked after them, and fed them but that conflict with animals was as a result of lack of appreciation of benefits to be accrued from conservation.

He said community leaders needed to be sensitised so that they were involved in protecting wildlife.

Meanwhile, host President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said if the Southern African region was allowed to dispose of its ivory and rhino stocks arising from natural attrition, US$600 million would be raised adding that this amount could be used to finance conservation for the next two decades.

President Mnangagwa said wildlife conservation requires financing and that there was need for water fencing and strict law enforcement against poaching.

He however said he was concerned at the rise in the number of elephants, rhinos, and buffaloes as a result of conservation.

The four Presidents were in Victoria Falls Town, in Zimbabwe attending the First Africa Wildlife Economy Summit under the theme: Communities for Conservation, Harnessing Conservation Tourism, and supporting Governments, which closes today.

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