Elephant poaching rife

The demand for ivory is the cause in the increase of the poaching of elephants in Zambia, Mushingashi director Darrel Watt said
And Special Assistant to the President for Project Implementation and Monitoring, Lucky Mulusa who visited the area said it was unfortunate that poachers who were arrested were released and got away with a fine of K900.
Mr Watt called for stringent measures to protect the tourism sector.
He said this following the killing of five elephants at his Mushingashi camp, which is situated along Mumbwa -Kasempa road, about 8 km away from Kafue national park.
He said since Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) did not monitor the area, this had resulted in an increase in poaching.
Mr Watt said poachers have taken advantage of the absence of ZAWA to kill elephants for ivory which was on high demand.
“This is the camp checkpoint at Mumbwa-Kasempa road and we don’t have ZAWA officials here who should do their work and as a private sector we need support to ensure animals are protected,” he said.
Mr Watt said there was never a day without hearing gunshots from poachers, saying even human life was in danger from poachers.
He said his own anti-poacher scouts last week found five rotten carcases of elephants who had their ivories removed.
“It is really sad and they are only targeting elephants because they are selling ivory at K450 per kg, while bush meat for other animals is sold at only K80. So even the elephants now have been traumatized and now they reacting to humans making driving through the park dangerous,” Mr Watt said.
He said so far more than 35 elephants had been killed in less than six months, adding that poachers equipped themselves with advanced weapons.
And Mr Mulusa said he was aware that the killing of elephants for ivory was done by some few foreigners with the help of the local people.
He said Government would deal with the matter promptly because colossal sums of money were being lost in trying to improve the sectors that could improve the economy.
Mr Mulusa said it would be important if security forces joined efforts to sort out the situation before Zambia’s wildlife was depleted.
“This situation is posing a risk to the tourism sector because we need to attract tourists with what we have and not whereby in future we just be saying, we had such animals in our country. Tourism is all about attraction and not history,” he said.
Mr Mulusa said Government would put in place a task force that would deal with the poachers to deter them from such vices.
He said it was unfortunate that even the legal framework that was supposed to superintend on game management was inadequate and even working in reverse.
Mr Mulusa said Government would also involve the international stakeholders such as the United Nations because some of the animals that were being killed were coming neighbouring countries because of the drought that had faced the region.
He also disclosed that the Government was putting a lot of money to upgrade the Mumbwa-Kasempa road to open up the area for agriculture and tourism sector.
And a spot check by the Daily Nation at the park revealed that four elephants’ carcases were found rotten and had their ivories removed.