Chief Lwembe bemoans high poaching, HIV prevalence

HIGH levels of poaching and rising HIV/AIDS infections are some of the serious challenges in Senior Chief Lwembe’s area of Eastern Province.

Chief Lwembe told the Daily Nation in Nyimba at the weekend that poaching in his chiefdom had become a serious problem following the closure of the only Game Management Area (GMA)which helped to curtail poaching activities

“Poachers have taken advantage of this development to resort to wanton killing of animals in the area. The problem has been compounded by a poor road infrastracture which makes patrolling of the area almost impossible,

“We have come across so many wounded elephants and buffaloes which is definetly the work of poachers. There are few ZAWA scouts on the ground who have been overwhelmed by the poachers in my area,” said the chief.

He hoped that the  GMA ban could be lifted next year so that sanity  could return to the animal kingdom.

The chief further complained that because of the ban, his chiefdom was facing serious financial challengess for community projects as no money was  forthcoming  through hunting royalties.

He said  because of non-existent roads, the movement of people had been restricted.

The chief said this had given poachers an advantage to indiscriminately kill wildlife.

On HIV/AIDS, the chief said the problem was serious because villagers did not like to discuss reproductive health. “People here are not free to discuss sex. One time we gave condoms to women, it became a big problem with their husbands. People think HIV is a disease which comes about if one sleeps with older partners. But people close to Nyimba Boma are opening up and have even welcomed the concept of  male circumcision,” said the chief. He however said farming was on course although the drought the area experienced last season did effect farming activities.

“The drought however did not stop the people from working hard in their fields to produce crops such as cotton, sugar canes and maize to mention but a few crops. But without a good road network it is difficult to achieve meaningful economic development.

“So, I am appealing to government to look into the problem of roads so that people could freely move and be able to take their produce to the markets within short period unlike now when roads are not there,” he said.

The chief said currently, the area was serviced by three airstrips, one operated by the Zambia Flying Doctor Servive and  the other two run by private game ranchers. He said the people were more than ready to take agriculture to higher levels but that they needed a good road network which was crucial to development.